"When someone becomes old then every part of the body too becomes old”: experiences of living with dementia in Kintampo, rural Ghana

Naana Agyeman, Maëlenn Guerchet, Solomon Nyame, Charlotte Tawiah, Seth Owusu-agyei, Martin J. Prince, Rosie Mayston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Studies have suggested that in African countries, symptoms of cognitive decline are commonly seen as part of “normal ageing” or attributed to supernatural causes. The impact of folk beliefs about causality upon help-seeking is unclear. Likewise, there is a lack of evidence relating to how families cope with living with an older resident with dementia. Our study's aim was to explore the sociocultural beliefs, understandings, perceptions and behaviours relating to living with dementia in Kintampo, Ghana. We conducted in-depth interviews with a total of 28 people, using a series of case studies among 10 older people living with dementia and their families. Results revealed that symptoms of cognitive impairment were generally linked to inexorable bodily decline understood to be characteristic of “normal” ageing. Stigma was therefore perceived to be non-existent. Whilst managing the costs of care was often a challenge, care-giving was largely accepted as a filial duty, commonly shared among female residents of large compound households. Families experimented with biomedical and traditional medicine for chronic conditions they perceived to be treatable. Our findings suggest that whilst families offer a holistic approach to the needs of older people living with chronic conditions including dementia, health and social policies offer inadequate scaffolding to support this work. In the future, it will be important to develop policy frameworks that acknowledge the continued social and economic potential of older people and strengthen the existing approach of families, optimising the management of non-communicable diseases within primary care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-917
Number of pages23
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Issue number5
Early online date2 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Ghana
  • ageing
  • dementia
  • help-seeking
  • qualitative research


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