LAHORE: A new research report by Alzheimer’s Pakistan into how people with dementia in the country are taken care of has highlighted the need for greater awareness of the disease, more effective support services and cultural understanding.
The research report was launched by Alzheimer’s Pakistan in a research dissemination seminar organised at a local hotel Friday. Led by the University of Southampton, the team of international researchers conducted a study to identify people’s beliefs and attitudes towards dementia and develop the best policies to help those living with the disease in the country.
Working in collaboration with Brighton and Sussex Medical School, The Aga Khan University and the charities Age International, HANDS and Alzheimer’s Pakistan, the researchers conducted a series of interviews with people living with dementia and their caregivers, and focus groups with members of the general public. They also carried out semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, such as practitioners and policymakers.
Prof Asghar Zaidi, principal investigator of the University of Southampton, said one of the most striking findings in the report is the lack of awareness of dementia and its symptoms.
Respondents attributed the disease to a range of factors, such as getting old, doing too much, stress, shock, social isolation and in more extreme cases, black magic.
These misconceptions led to misunderstandings about care and prognosis. Perhaps most concerning is a strong stigma associated with the disease or generally with any other mental health problem.
The key recommendations of the report include raising awareness of dementia, funding for affordable and accessible specialist dementia services, facilitate home-based care, religious leaders’ involvement in raising awareness on dementia and the acceptability to seek help.
Alzheimer’s Pakistan secretary general and co-investigator Dr Hussain Jafri said this research is the first ever international psychosocial research on dementia in Pakistan, and provides concrete recommendations on what all need improvement to bring about a positive change in the lives of the people with dementia and their families.
Dr Yasmin Rashid, patron, Alzheimer’s Pakistan, has highlighted that the number of people with dementia are increasing in the country due to the increased life expectancy and it is time that all the stakeholders including the government, doctors, NGOs and the community join hands in providing the much-needed dementia care services.