05.04. Describe the cultural/societal perceptions of dementia | Brazil

05.04. Describe the cultural/societal perceptions of dementia | Brazil

08 Apr 2022

There are few recent studies and official documentations exploring this topic in Brazil. According to a study conducted in São Paulo, 14.8% of the population showed some type of stigma regarding the Alzheimer’s disease (for example: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination) (Blay & Peluso, 2010).  Another study also carried out in São Paulo showed that Alzheimer’s disease was identified as memory loss by 46.4% of interviewed people, it was believed to be a mental illness by 39.4% and the majority of people attributed isolation and drug use as the main causes of the disease (Blay & de Toledo Piza Peluso, 2008). It is important to note that these studies were conducted around ten years ago in São Paulo. In a not yet published study, a master student of Prof. Cleusa Ferri, showed that 69.7% of 87 older people attending primary care recognized a case vignette as dementia, and 25% knew it by the name of Alzheimer’s disease (Opaleye et al., 2018). According to a survey published in the World Alzheimer Report: Attitudes to Dementia (2019), from all the Brazilian respondents, 19.5% of the general public and 26.4% of the healthcare practitioners said they would make an effort to keep their dementia a secret when meeting people; 69.6% of the general public revealed they perceive people living with dementia as unpredictable and impulsive. In this same survey, when asked whether people living with dementia were perceived as dangerous persons, 18% of the general public and 15% of the healthcare professionals agreed with this statement (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2019).


Alzheimer’s Disease International. (2019). World Alzheimer Report: Attitudes to Dementia. https://www.alz.co.uk/research/WorldAlzheimerReport2019.pdf

Blay, S. L., & de Toledo Piza Peluso, E. (2008). The public’s ability to recognize Alzheimer disease and their beliefs about its causes. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, 22(1), 79–85. https://doi.org/10.1097/WAD.0b013e31815ccd47

Blay, S. L., & Peluso, E. T. P. (2010). Public stigma: The community’s tolerance of Alzheimer disease. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(2), 163–171. https://doi.org/10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181bea900

Opaleye, D., Machado, D. de A., Campos, T. P., Laks, J., & Ferri, C. P. (2018). Dementia in Brazil: Preferences on diagnosis disclosure in primary care. AAIC 2018, Chicago.