Original Research

Religion and the everyday citizenship of people with dementia in Nigeria: A qualitative study

Elizabeth O. George, Ruth L. Bartlett
African Journal of Disability | Vol 13 | a1338 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v13i0.1338 | © 2024 Elizabeth O. George, Ruth L. Bartlett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 September 2023 | Published: 31 March 2024

About the author(s)

Elizabeth O. George, Centre of Diaconia and Professional Practice, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway
Ruth L. Bartlett, Faculty of Health Studies, VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway; and School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

Abstract

Background: Research on the lived experience of dementia is burgeoning across the social and health sciences. Yet, very little is still known about the experience of dementia for many tribes and ethnoreligious groups, as most studies are conducted in Western countries.

Objective: The aim is to advance the understanding of the role of faith and prayer in the lives of people with dementia in Nigeria through a lens of everyday citizenship.

Method: Interviews were conducted with 17 older people with dementia in a low-income, Yoruba-speaking community in Southwestern Nigeria. After transcription, the data were analysed thematically.

Results: The major theme identified in participants’ accounts was that prayer served as a space for active and agentic participation. This theme was further elaborated upon through four subthemes: (1) agency in routine and daily prayer, (2) cognitive (re)framing through prayer, (3) prayer as a vehicle for active social interaction and support, and (4) prayer as work and transaction.

Conclusion: Participants described religious practices as important to their acceptance of the situations, their feelings of hope in everyday lives, and their connection and contributions to the community. Analysis also shows the centrality of relationality in the everyday experiences of people with dementia.

Contribution: This article contributes to advancing the understanding of the socially orientated everyday experience of dementia. It contributes to a small body of literature on the social aspect and everyday experiences of living with dementia in Africa and stands out as the first of its kind study in Nigeria.


Keywords

dementia; citizenship; religion; Africa; lived experience

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

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