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Patient and caregiver experiences of living with dementia in Tanzania

Lookup NU author(s): Jess Walker, Dr Catherine DotchinORCiD, Dr Matthew Breckons, Professor Richard Walker



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2023. Introduction: Tanzania is a low-income country with an increasing prevalence of dementia, which provides challenges for the existing healthcare system. People with dementia often don’t receive a formal diagnosis, and with a lack of formal healthcare, are often predominantly supported by family relatives. There are very few published data relating to lived experiences of people with dementia in Tanzania. This study aimed to understand people with dementia, and their caregivers’ experiences of living with dementia in Tanzania and the perceived needs of people with dementia. Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 people with dementia and 12 caregivers in Moshi, Tanzania. Interviews were audio-recorded, translated, transcribed and analysed using a Framework Analysis approach. Results: Three sub-themes were identified within data describing the experience of ‘Living with Dementia in Tanzania’: ‘Deteriorations in Health’, ‘Challenges to living with Dementia in Tanzanian Culture’, and ‘Lack of Support’: people with dementia faced challenges due to social isolation, stigmatisation, and lack of caregiver knowledge on how best to provide support. Collectively, these impacted on both the physical and mental health of people with dementia. Misconceptions about dementia aetiology related to age, stresses of daily life and other co-morbidities. People with dementia were motivated to access treatment, exhibiting pluralistic health-seeking behaviours. There was an overall preference for non-pharmacological interventions over medication, with high levels of trust in medical professional opinions. Conclusions: Living with dementia in Tanzania is influenced by both cultural and religious factors. More work is needed to target supplementary healthcare (with efforts to promote accessibility), support for caregivers and public health education about dementia to overcome existent misconceptions and stigma.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walker J, Dotchin C, Breckons M, Fisher E, Lyimo G, Mkenda S, Walker R, Urasa S, Rogathi J, Spector A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Dementia

Year: 2023

Volume: 22

Issue: 8

Pages: 1900-1920

Print publication date: 01/11/2023

Online publication date: 25/10/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 09/11/2023

ISSN (print): 1471-3012

ISSN (electronic): 1741-2684

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/14713012231204784


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Funder referenceFunder name
Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD)