Beyond Private? Dementia, Family Caregiving and Public Health

Keywords: dementia, family caregiving, public health, relational, social determinants of health, equity
Language(s): English


The World Economic Forum has called dementia one of the biggest global health crises of the 21st century. In this paper, I make the case that unpaid caregiving by family or close others of persons living with dementia should be a matter of public health. Shaji and Reddy proposed this in 2012 in the context of dementia care in India. They explicitly acknowledge the influence of Talley and Crews’ 2007 article on caregiving as an emerging public health concern. However, they narrow their proposal to caregiving for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), which I take to be an important first step in building an argument for putting caregiving more firmly on a public health agenda. In order to support my claim, first, I establish that caregiving is a social determinant of health. Second, I counter objections to the addition of caregiving for persons living with ADRD to a public health agenda, as it would lead to public health mission creep. I then argue that a broad understanding of public health can be inclusive of this type caregiving and is preferable as it highlights an issue of health equity, the gendered nature of caregiving. Finally, I make the case that a definition of public health inclusive of the social determinants of health and caregiving is more adequately suited to address the health consequences of the current changing demographic patterns. My argument adds support to writings on migration calling for broadening the scope of public health.


How to Cite
Lanoix M. Beyond Private? Dementia, Family Caregiving and Public Health. Can. J. Bioeth. 2023;6:89-101.