Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about Dementia in an Urban Xhosa-Speaking Community in South Africa


Background: Dementia, a debilitating condition, requires particular attention in Southern Africa where there is a dearth of prevalence data. Population ageing and other risk factors are driving an increasing incidence of dementia. However, limited knowledge and understanding may impact the attitudes and practices towards persons with dementia. Aim: To investigate the relationship between the knowledge of dementia, its effect on the attitudes and practices toward people with dementia in an urban community setting. To determine the perceived availability of services for those with dementia, the awareness of elder abuse and care-giver burden. Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was performed in Khayelitsha. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used with assistance from isiXhosa speaking translators. A sample of 100 individuals was surveyed door-to-door from both the informal and formal housing settlements, using cluster random sampling methods. Results: There was deficient knowledge about dementia, with an average accuracy of 53.44% on the knowledge test. Only 10% reported knowing what dementia was. Participants had generally tolerant views about people with dementia. No significant relationship was found between knowledge and attitudes about dementia. There was a significant difference between people who would share their house with a family member with dementia or send them to nursing homes (p = 0.03). 64% of participants knew what elder abuse was. 19% knew of an elder who had been abused; amongst the most common forms reported were being locked alone in their house and being deprived of food. Conclusions: This study showed that knowledge about dementia was limited with no relationship to attitudes of high tolerance towards people with dementia. Elder abuse was well recognized, but poorly reported. Appropriate health promotion strategies and education should be conducted and further research should be done into dementia in South Africa.

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Khonje, V. , Milligan, C. , Yako, Y. , Mabelane, M. , Borochowitz, K. and de Jager, C. (2015) Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs about Dementia in an Urban Xhosa-Speaking Community in South Africa. Advances in Alzheimer's Disease, 4, 21-36. doi: 10.4236/aad.2015.42004.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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