Perceptions of dementia amongst adolescents


  • S. Parveen
  • A. Griffiths
  • S. Shaffiq
  • J. Oyebode


Background: Current policy highlights the need to develop dementia friendly communities. In order to sustain dementia friendly communities, the involvement of young people is imperative. The aim of this study was to utilise Leventhal’s illness perceptions model to explore perceptions of dementia amongst adolescents. Method: 326 students aged 14-17 years completed the Brief Illness Perceptions Questionnaire, and 30 adolescents participated in six focus groups. Framework analysis of qualitative data was conducted using Leventhal’s model. Findings: The findings suggest that the signs and symptoms associated with dementia were perceived as cognitive, such as memory loss and poor facial recognition. The experience of living with dementia was perceived to be negative as was the emotional impact on the person with dementia. Participants perceived the frustration associated with memory loss and lack of independence to lead to aggressive behaviours. Dementia was thought to be caused by brain damage, old age and traumatic life events. Students were aware there was currently no cure for dementia and of the limitations of medicines. They suggested a number of psychosocial activities that could help support the person such as social interaction and reminiscence. Students highlighted their desire to know more about risk factors for developing dementia. Discussion: The findings of the study suggest there is a need for dementia awareness initiatives that promote the possibility of living well with dementia and health promotion for young people. The findings will be used to further develop a dementia friendly initiative for young people in secondary schools (Dementia Detectives).





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