I’ve been in Brazil for a couple of weeks for a family wedding and couldn’t resist finding out about how people with dementia are cared for and supported here and what the attitudes are.
Nurses told me that Alzheimer Brazil has offered information so that people understand what it is but there is still a great deal to be done. The most common reaction is of horror because of the immense impact on families. I found a research piece from 2008 and nothing has changed much in 8 years – families still spend the bulk of their income on caring for relatives.
Some carers find themselves living in favelas and working three or more jobs to cope with caring for relatives with dementia and other conditions while extended family help with care. I have heard stories beginning with ‘Oh yes, my cleaner is in a terrible situation, I’m trying to help her…’ and ‘My Great Aunt lives with my Mother and Grandmother because….’ and ‘she can’t afford to leave the favela because….’. It does seem to be the women who bear the weight of responsibility for caring here.
Medical care is offered, plus tax exemptions and free prescriptions for ‘patients’ (not carers) help a little but there is no social care and social security is limited to those who have contributed.
Alzheimer Brazil focus mostly on public information/awareness and early diagnosis.
More than a million people in Brazil live with dementia.
It is reported that families can spend 60-80% of their income caring for people at home with dementia.
People with dementia in Brazil can expect medical care (not social care), free prescriptions and exemption from income tax.
Yet people find a way. I have seen families out with their elderly relatives and there are plenty of free things to do here. The beach volleyball is free, even the World Grand Slam. I particularly enjoyed seeing a guy in his 80s at least enjoying a samba band with excellent dancing (by himself). Older people joined today’s protest against corruption. Extended families eat together at the serve yourself restaurants because it’s cheaper than buying food to cook here in Rio. I saw older, probably retired fishermen chatting daily with the current fishermen, offering advice on the equipment.
Older people are well respected here. They don’t have to queue at all, always welcomed to the front. Always seated first in restaurants and on the metro. It’s lovely to see.