People’s Awareness Of Dementia In UK

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The topic I have chosen to do my research project on is peoples awareness of dementia. I have chosen dementia awareness as the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with dementia is on the rise, with an expectation of there being 1 million people diagnosed with dementia by 2025. Through my project I am aiming to discover:

  • Peoples awareness on the signs and symptoms of dementia.
  • Peoples awareness on the factors that can increase their risk of developing dementia.
  • The amount of awareness being created by the government.

I am hoping to discover that there is an increased awareness of dementia and people are being made aware of how their lifestyle choices can influence their chances of developing dementia.

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a) Secondary data

Secondary data is data readily available from research that has already been carried out on a chosen subject.Secondary data can be found from many different sources such as textbooks, newspaper articles, websites and government reports. Although secondary data can help improve understanding on a subject and is a cheap way to gather information, it is also often historical data therefore the data is not current.

b) There have been vast amounts of research done on dementia with it being a rising problem in the UK. There are currently 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, with that statistic being expected to rise to 1 million people by 2025. 1). Some of the most common symptoms of dementia are:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty preforming familiar tasks
  • poor/decreased judgement
  • changes in mood and behaviour
  • disorientation to time and place

As dementia has risen, there has been more research into what can increase your risk of developing dementia. Some risk factors are:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Psychical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alchol
  • Lack of socialisation
  • Head injuries

There has been research done in what lifestyle choices can increase a persons likelihood of developing dementia. One of the factors found to increase dementia risk is smoking. Smoking is most likely to increase a persons risk of developing vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to smoking causing problems with the vascular system, which can lead to vascular dementia. There are also toxins in cigarette smoke that cause oxidative stress which can lead to the development of alzheimers disease. It is thought that ‘smoking confers between a 30-50% increase in the rsik of developing dementia’. Research carried out by the alzheimers society found that around ‘6 out of 100 non-smoking over 75s have dementia’, whereas ‘9 out of 100 smoking over 75s have dementia’ Although the difference in non-smoking to smoking dementia sufferers is minimal, it still supports the theory that smoking does have an affect on dementia developm

For my primary research on dementia awareness I will be using two methods, one qualitative method and one quantitative method. My quantitative method will be in the form of questionnaires, I will be producing 10 questionnaires with closed questions and handing them out to friends and family to complete. The sample of people I will use for my questionnaire will be people I personally know, however I will hand out my samples to both genders and a range of ages in order to have more variation and results more representative of the wider population. For my qualitative method I will be using a semi- structured interview, with a mixture of open and closed questions and some exploration of the interviewee’s answers. I will have one younger and one older person answering my interview questions.

Qquestionnaire advantages:

  • Do not cost much to create or distribute.
  • Everyone answering the same closed questions means it is easier to evaluate the research and look at potential patterns in the results.
  • My questionnaire allows users to remain anonymous, meaning they will be more comfortable answering personal questions.
  • They’re ‘replicable and can be used again in later studies’.
  • There’s no time pressure on the person answering the question so they are able to consider what they answer.

Questionnaire disadvantages

  • Closed questions means there’s no insight into peoples answers
  • If the questionnaires are created and sent out to people via social media or text then there may be a low response rate.
  • Some people may answer dishonestly, as they want to answer in a way that is socially desirable or they may want to protect their privacy.
  • Some people may misinterpret the meaning of a question, which will affect the results of the questionnaire.

Semi structured interview advantages

  • Participants are able to express their thoughts more
  • Having a base of questions that are asked in every interview means is replicable and it is easier to spot patterns in the results.
  • Being face to face means that respondents can clarify any confusion they may have about questions.

Semi structured interview disadvantages

  • Spontaneous questions that are added in may be hard to quantify.
  • Respondents may not answer truthfully as they may want to protect their privacy.
  • Interviewer may be accidentally bias when asking a spontaneous question.

This graph shows that 100% of people who answered my questionnaire feels that the government is not doing enough to raise awareness on dementia. This would suggest that the people interviewed feel there is a lack of campaigns on dementia and may not feel fully aware of dementia themselves.

This graph shows that only 2 people would fully change their lifestyle to decrease their risk of developing dementia. This warrants the question as to whether raising awareness on the risks of dementia would have much impact on how many people developed dementia. However 6 people answered that they would change their lifestyle to some extent, which may have a slight impact on whether they may develop dementia. However raising awareness is still important in order to allow people to make informed choices.

80% of people who answered my questionnaire knew that lack of socialisation can cause dementia, this was the most known factor for causing dementia in the research. This may be because there have recently been a few documentaries on how bringing children into dementia homes to socialise with dementia patients has reduced the speed of development in dementia sufferers. The least known factor for causing dementia in the research was head injury, this may be because less people have had a head injury themselves, therefore they may not have looked into what a head injury could cause. Not one factor in this question had 100% of people know it was a risk, this shows that while there is some awareness on factors that can increase the risk of dementia, people are still not fully aware of how their lifestyle choices can affect their likelihood of developing dementia.

My qualitative research showed that although there is some awareness of dementia symptoms and risk factors, there is still more awareness that needs to be raised. Both participants were asked what their opinion is on how much awareness the government is providing for dementia. Both participants answered that they did not feel that the government was providing any awareness on dementia, stating that the only campaigns they had ever seen were from charities. Similarly, when asked about how they became aware of dementia, both participants had developed their awareness through personal experience, with one getting their knowledge from their workplace and the other getting their knowledge from having had their Nan suffer from dementia. This could suggest that the awareness people do have is not from campaigns, therefore although people are aware of dementia to an extent, they are not being made aware by sources such as the government.

Throughout my qualitative and quantitative primary research I was able to get a mix of genders and ages in participants therefore the results produced were more representative of a range of viewpoints.

I produced a pilot questionnaire before and asked members of my family read through it, so they could tell me whether the questions made sense and related to my research aims. Through doing this they drew my attention to the fact that one of my questions was confusing and could be interpreted differently by participants. I was able to change the wording of my question to make it more clear what I was asking, therefore get more reliable answers.

The sample size I used was small and all participants were from the same geographic location. This means that although there was a variation in age and gender, the results would not be representative of the entire population.

The answers people gave may not be entirely truthful. Due to me only asking people I personally knew to answer my questions, they may have felt unable to be honest as they may have wanted to protect their privacy and may not have liked the idea of someone they knew knowing things about them.

If I was to repeat the project again there are a few aspects that I would change. Firstly I would have a larger sample size, and I would distrubute the questionnaires to different locations to get results more representative of the wider population, this would make the research more reliable. I would also add a question into my questionnaire about how the participant became aware of dementia, so I would have a better knowledge on how awareness was being raised, this would give better insight on how much awareness was being raised by the government.

When carrying out the research I took into account ethical considerations. I ensured that I did not take any personal details such as name or address and only used the data collected for my project. I also made sure that in my questionnaire I included answers such as ‘Other’ for gender and ‘Prefer not to say’ when asking about sensitive subjects. 

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