Dementia and shame in South Asian communities

BBC South Today highlights the shame and stigma associated with Dementia

Dementia and shame in South Asian communities

This report was aired on BBC South Today on 14th December 2020 and highlights how shame and stigma is associated with Dementia in South Asian communities.


Dealing with dementia is heartbreaking and hard for both patients and the  families who care for them. But some asian families here in the south say they have to fight the disease on two fronts because of a lack of understanding in their community. There's no equivalent word for dementia in many south asian languages so it's just translated as crazy or mad. Families who are battling the disease say as a result they can face stigma. Our reporter Minreet Kaur has been to meet one family who face such a problem.

Nirmal Singh with Dad

They thought that he was mentally, I'm going to use punjabi word, pagal. They would just react with the body language like tutting or looking the other way. My dad was diagnosed with dementia about seven years ago and in the last two  three years it got severe to the point where he needed literally 24-hour care.

There is no word for dementia in many south asian languages but for Nirmal Singh the condition is all too real. He lost his 88 year-old father after a five-year battle not only with the disease but with the attitudes towards it. “It's kind of just swept under the carpet. It's not brought to the fore. It's not discussed and one of the first  stumbling blocks we had was my mother when we did have functions and events taking place. She would rather she didn't go and we didn't take my father either.

With Mother

The alzheimer's society says more  research is needed into just how common  dementia is  in south asian communities but it says  the rate is increasing  and that poses a real challenge to those on the caring industries front line  they still think that god has punished you..... View the video below for more -

Add a Comment