Many studies have explored the impact that dementia has on adult caregivers. But some might forget that dementia affects not only those with the condition and their carers, often their partners or their closest relatives, but their entire family, including grandchildren.
A study was conducted in Taiwan, surveying over 5825 students, ranging from 10 to 15 years old, exploring precisely that. The researchers found out the following:
- Older students and girls were significantly more likely to have heard of dementia. Older students were also more likely to think that dementia is preventable
- Younger students and those close to someone living with dementia on a day-to-day basis, were more likely to think that dementia is a normal part of growing old. Younger boys in particular were more likely to think that dementia is contagious or hereditary.
- Perhaps the saddest part is that many students reported feelings of shame and embarrassment, when asked how they would feel to invite classmates to come to their home if they had a demented family member.
At the end of their study, the researchers came to the following conclusions:
- Most children and adolescents had an overly optimistic attitude towards dementia, and thought that it is curable and preventable.
- Since the school curriculum didn’t include lectures on dementia for that age group, the scientists accredited these positive attitudes to media exposure, specifically overly positive reporting in the media regarding progress in treating dementia.
The scientists finally advise in favour of educational programs, targeting the youth specifically, in order to inform them correctly on what dementia is and reduce their fear of dementia symptoms.
source: Fuh, J.L., Wang, S.J., Juang, K.D., (2005)Understanding of Senile Dementia by Children and Adolescents: Why Grandma Can’t Remember Me?, Acta Neurologica Taiwanica, 14(3), pp. 138-142