DEMENTIA IN GHANA: CARE OPTIONS AVAILABLE AND HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED TO PUBLICIZE THEM

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Abstract

According to the 2010 census in Ghana, the population of the elderly grew by 87% between 1960 and 2010 (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). With this growth in the number of elderly people, comes a higher number of occurrences of diseases that afflict the aged, such as dementia.

The objective of this thesis, is to find the care options available to the demented in Ghana, those actually being used by the families of the demented in Ghana, and ways by which technology can be used to publicize dementia and its care options in Ghana. Qualitative research was done using non- probability sampling to select respondents to partake in this study. Findings from this research were got by interviewing medical professionals, family members/guardians of the demented and experts in educating the public on various issues using technology in Ghana. All respondents targeted are based in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

The findings show that there is a general ignorance on dementia plaguing Ghanaians which causes them to respond wrongly to people diagnosed with dementia. However, there are several care options available in Ghana for the demented. The main problem here is the lack of information about the care options available which makes it difficult for families with demented members to access them. Also, technology experts say that technology will serve as a great medium to publicize dementia and its care options in Ghana, however, success is based on which segment of people are targeted as recipients of the messages. Technologies that can be used for the publication range from mass media such as radios to processor- embedded devices such as Virtual Reality tools.

Table of content

Declaration Page……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. i

Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………………………………… ii

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… iii

List of Tables…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vi

List of Figures…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vii

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………… 1

Motivation……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1

Background…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1

Research Topic……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3

Objective of Research…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 4

Research Questions……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

Research Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5

Relevance of Research………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Organizational Outline…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW………………………………………………………………….. 7

Dementia and the Aged………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

Care for the Demented…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9

Technology in Dementia…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 13

Technology and Educating Society…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

Chapter Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY…………………………………………………………………………… 18

Objective of the Research………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Research Questions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Research Design………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Scope of Research……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 20

Method/Procedure………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21

Summary of Respondents………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24

Data Collection Tools…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27

Research Ethics…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 28

Reliability and Validity……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 28

Data Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS……………………………………………………………………………………….. 30

Analysis of Data and Discussion of Results……………………………………………………………………………………………… 30

Dementia in Ghana………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 30

Objective 1: Care Options Available to the Demented in Ghana………………………………………………………. 32

Objective 2: Care Options being Used  by Families in Ghana for their Demented Patients 36

Objective 3: Technology and how it can be Used to Publicize Dementia and its Care

Options in Ghana……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 41

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………………… 47

Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 48

Limitations………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 49

Areas for Further Research………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 50

REFERENCES………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 51

Interviews…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 56

APPENDICES……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 58

Appendix A- Dementia Test Figures…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 58

Appendix B- Data collection tools…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59

List of Tables

Table 1: Summary of technologies, discussed above, used to publicize medical information Table 2: Research sample

Table 3: Details of respondents

Table 4: Summary of Technology to be Used to Publicize Dementia and its Care options in Ghana

List of Figures

Figure 1: Summary of respondents

Figure 2: Summary of Care Options Available to the Demented in Ghana

Figure 3: Summary of Care Options Used by Family Members of the demented in Ghana Figure 4: Summary of Care Options Used by Family Members of the demented in Ghana (TagCrowd)

Figure 5: Summary of Technology to be Used to Publicize Dementia and its Care options in Ghana

Figure 6: Drawing made by doctor for patient to replicate Figure 7: Demented person’s “replica” of Figure 6 above

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Motivation

The motivation for this topic initially stemmed from conversations I had with a few medical personnel about the elderly and various diseases they suffer from when I was looking for some sort of community service to engage in after high school. However, in 2014, my motivation and mere interest peaked when my father was diagnosed with dementia. Excluding the basic care advice given by the doctor on what to expect and how to handle him, finding care options was a difficult task that lasted for many months. After a few conversations with some of my peers who had family members with dementia in Ghana, I realized that the problem my family faced in finding care options was not peculiar to us. With this information, finding a solution to this difficulty would be highly beneficial to families with dementia patients as well as families who have never heard of dementia.

Background

Dementia is a disease of the brain, which deposits certain proteins in the brain and causes it to degenerate (Smith, Kenan, & Kunik, 2004). It is a descriptive term indicating an observable decline in mental abilities (Gustafson, 2009).

The disease was nicknamed “the long bye” by Nancy Reagan, a former first lady of the President of America, because it gradually robs its patients of their memory to the point where to a family member or friend, all they see when they look at the patient is a familiar face, but recognize a stranger within. From the patient’s point of view, Virginia Bell and David Troxel liken how the patients feel to when a student is asked a question in class that he/she has no idea about. The loss, confusion, frustration,

paranoia, anger and feeling of isolation are emotions that the dementia patients experience regularly (Troxel & Bell, 1997).

With the inevitable stage of old age in a person’s life comes various challenges, diseases and complications. According to the 2010 population census in Ghana, the population of the elderly grew by 87% between 1960 and 2010 (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). With this increasing ageing comes a higher risk of diseases, including dementia, as highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014.

According to the Dementia Association of Ghana, there were already over seventeen thousand (17,000) people suffering from dementia in the country in 2014. Mr. Dey, the co-founder of the Dementia Association of Ghana, stated that, “it is estimated that one in nine persons over sixty-five years and one in four over eighty years, develop this progressive illness which that last for many years.” (Ghana News Agency, 2014). The World Health Organization (WHO) goes on to state that the one form of dementia suffered by the elderly in Ghana is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s which was discovered by a German physician called Alois Alzheimer (Smith, Kenan, & Kunik, 2004), and like many dementias cannot be treated; it can only be slowed down using drugs (Ohene, 2016).

In developed countries, such as countries in Western Europe including Spain, where dementia is most common, and in the United States of America, people are very concerned about this mental disease and as such, have dedicated resources to collate statistics on its prevalence (Alzheimers.net, 2016). However, the topic of dementia in Ghana, and other developing countries for that matter, is not treated as issue of much gravity. To many in Ghana, the symptoms of dementia in the elderly such as being forgetful are the mere effects of old age (Ohene, 2016). “More research is needed to allow developing countries to estimate the current extent, type and cost of medical

and social service provision, and to make confident predictions of future need. Research in different cultures with different levels of economic and industrial development will also increase the variance of environmental exposure, facilitating the identification of environmental risk factors and gene—environment interactions for dementia” (Prince, 1997).

Even when the people are diagnosed with the disease in Ghana, family members and other people are not able to cope with the dementia patients causing them to ostracize the patients and in some cases, tag them as witches or wizards (Spittel, 2014). For a long time, Africa’s approach to caring for the elderly has been based on the traditional model, where extended family members support the elderly in the family by providing physical, emotional and financial support (Walker, 2011). With the crumbling of the extended family system due to urbanization and the gradual dissolution of the traditional system through education and the peaking rate of Christianity, older family members barely have support from their younger family members (Akinny, 2016).

This thesis seeks to research the care options available to the demented in Ghana. With the world becoming highly technological, this research also hopes to find ways by which technology can be used to disseminate information about this disease and the various care options that are available in Ghana, by examining best practices from other fields and talking to professionals in dementia care and publications in Ghana. Technologies to be used range from mass media such as newspapers to processor- embedded devices such as mobile phones.