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Parallel Session P3 - Perceptions of dementia

Detailed Programme and abstracts

Friday, 1 October: 11.00-12.00 (Yellow Room)

P3.1. Impact of practice changes of professional caregivers on their social representations of Alzheimer’s disease

Géraldine Viatour, Kevin Charras

G. Viatour Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, Paris, France,

K. Charras Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, Paris, France,

A social representation is a stock of values, ideas, beliefs, and practices that are shared among the members of groups and communities. Social representations also help us to understand the world, to adapt us to it, to explain and to have the sensation of mastering it.

This exploratory study focuses on the evolution of social representations of professional caregivers in special care units for people with dementia that have implemented the EVAL’ZHEIMER program. In this program the caregivers have benefited of 12 weekly training sessions in order to adapt their care practices to people with dementia. The training was associated with a dementia-friendly environmental intervention in order to adapt the design of the facility to the alterations of this pathology. If we consider that practice is an important condition that contributes to the social representation’s evolution, studying social representations can be a suitable criterion to evaluate such a programme. Thus we hypothesised that the programme should have an influence on the social representations of Alzheimer’s disease.

44 caregivers answered during the first and the last session to the question: “What do you know about Alzheimer’s disease?” A content analysis of their answers and their rating in a prevalence order enabled us to analyse social representations.

The first set of answers show that caregivers make a symptomatic description of Alzheimer’s disease, and behavioral disorders are largely represented. During the second evaluation, after 12 training sessions, caregivers make a less impersonal description of Alzheimer’s disease, considering the person more than the disease. These results encourage us to do a confirmatory research about the evolution of social representations in the EVALZ’HEIMER Programme.

P3.2. Dementia-friendly municipalities: How can we transform our towns, villages and neighbourhoods by strengthening the social fabric around people with dementia and their carers?

Gerrit Rauws1, Bénédicte Gombault2, Saïda Sakali3

1 rue Brederode Street,21 1000 Brussels, Belgium, King Baudouin Foundation, director,

2 rue Brederode Street,21 1000 Brussels, Belgium, King Baudouin Foundation, projectmanager,

3 rue Brederode Street,21 1000 Brussels, Belgium, King Baudouin Foundation, projectmanager,

Learning to manage dementia is a real challenge for the whole society. A more public health approach to care for people with dementia, including community engagement as well as service provision, is needed. This is why the King Baudouin Foundation launched a campaign ‘Pour une commune Alzheimer admis/Voor een dementievriendelijke gemeente’ (For a dementia-friendly municipality).

The local community’s openness and readiness to welcome this vulnerable group into society can create a climate that literally and metaphorically provides living space for persons with dementia and their informal carer. The objective is to promote the creation of supportive local environments, the strengthening of community action, the development of personal skills and the reorientation of health services towards partnerships with communities.

The reaction of the municipalities are very positive and already more then 30 municipalities initiated projects that:

  • stimulate participation of people with dementia in their local community;
  • encourage interaction between patients and the local community to put an end to their isolation (or risk of isolation);
  • improve the integration of people with dementia within society: in neighbourhood shops, supermarkets, public services, sport and cultural activities, cafés, restaurants, in the street etc.
  • lift the taboo that exists around the subject of dementia and put the accent on its human dimension;
  • give a voice to patients themselves as well as their carers to make ‘their world’ more accessible and comprehensible to others.

A second call for project is running till November 2010 in Belgium. Several foundations will launch a campaign at European level. This campaign will be presented at the High level conference on dementia organised by the Belgian presidency of the EU in November 2010. In partnership with umbrella associations from municipalities a network of dementia friendly communities is created and an inspiration guide will be published to promote the dementia friendly municipalities

P3.3. Knowledge and attitudes about Alzheimer's disease in the lay public: influence of caregiving experience and other socio-demographic factors in an Italian sample

Maddalena Riva, Luca Rozzini, Salvatore Caratozzolo,

Marta Zaffira Conti, Federica Gottardi, Alessandro Padovani

Department of Neurology, University of Brescia, Italy.

Background: Nowadays there is an increasing attention to awareness and insight of illness in persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), their caregivers and general population; however, little is known about factors that could influence the knowledge about this type of cognitive disorder, likely to be highly prevalent in the future, worldwide.

Aim: This study aims to observe the influence of the caregiving experience, sex and age on the knowledge of AD; moreover this study intends to provide a better understanding of the lack of information about this common disease: these data could help medical staff give comprehensive information to people that requests services for this disorder.

Materials and methods: 1111 individuals (234 caregivers and 877 non-caregivers AD of different age, education, job and income) were assessed with a questionnaire constituted of 10 questions. The questionnaires were submitted to people waiting in the foyer of several departments of the hospital “Spedali Civili di Brescia” and in the anteroom of family physicians. The questionnaires assessed several issues: the general knowledge about Alzheimer disease, characteristic symptoms and risk factors, the perceived availability of services and the accessibility of information about, opinions about health care and drugs’ effectiveness.

Results: 46% of caregivers and 53% of non-caregivers AD think that dementia is a normal consequence of ageing; the majority of the caregivers declares to be able to recognize the onset symptoms of Alzheimer disease (67%) and is aware of the existence of the UVA centers (80%). Independently from the caregiving experience, men and elderly are less informed about AD and about territorial services.

Discussion: There is a significant discrepancy of knowledge and opinions between individuals in different categories of sex, age and education; whereas, the differences between caregivers’ and non-caregivers’ answers are less than expected.

Conclusion: Alzheimer’s is certainly a disease known by the general population, but this knowledge is sometimes superficial and inaccurate. There is a specific part of population that should be more informed about this kind of dementia, so that wrong opinions and social stigma could be eradicated.



Last Updated: Wednesday 03 November 2010