Views of the elderly were obtained from a cross-section of the public using 12 semi-structured interviews in the form of stratified group discussions. As a group, the elderly were generally thought of in negative terms. Furthermore, they were held partly responsible (or their perceived status, in particular by falling to keep physically active and to avoid mental deterioration and depression which were not considered conditions requiring treatment. In contrast, Alzheimer's disease was recognised as a disease, and sympathy was expressed for patient and carer. It was expected that responsibility for caring for the elderly mentally ill should pass to the State once the burden on carers became intolerable.
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