John Libbey Eurotext

Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement


Contrasted perceptions of Alzheimer's disease in the media and in the cultural productions: changes from 2010 to 2018 Volume 17, issue 4, Décembre 2019

Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, Paris, France
* Correspondance

Through a national and international press review (about 60 pages monthly, and 2 000 sources), the Foundation Médéric Alzheimer (FMA) found that Alzheimer's disease continues to supply an abundant media and cultural production. Therefore FMA wished to understand how the social perceptions on Alzheimer's disease, subjects with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers, have evolved since 2010. We reviewed printed press, documentaries, and awareness campaigns. Cultural productions included fiction materials such as novels, theatre plays, films, television series etc. We estimated at about one hundred and fifty the number of articles that were analyzed. Observed trends show that Alzheimer's disease has been trivialized, becoming a “background noise” both in media (coverage of research advances, local stories) and fiction works (in particular by singers and comedians, development of child literature etc.). Meanwhile, the disease is represented in a more sophisticated way, for instance addressing the specific needs of certain groups (young persons with dementia, person with sensory deficits, or cultural groups…). Alzheimer's associations are notably faced to critical issues (What to show? What and how to communicate?), without pessimism or overly naïve optimism. Representations of people with Alzheimer's disease are highly contrasted, between incarnation of heroism and figure of undesirable, as representations of caregivers (between sacrifice and abuse). Changes in Alzheimer disease representation will continue, thanks to the advocacy of persons with dementia themselves, activists and founders of groups and associations, in a society that some people appeal to become more dementia-friendly.