Working When Living with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 11th of March 2020.

News

Finding out you are living with dementia can be a challenging time; there can be a variety of emotions which can take hold. However, it is important to know that many people can carry on living their lives independently following the news that they’re living with dementia.

Whilst there are some aspects of life which may change as someone starts on their dementia journey, there are many things which with the right care and attention can remain the same with only slight adjustments. One of these things is to continue working; a dementia diagnosis does not necessarily mean a person has to retire, and with the right adjustments many people living with dementia can remain in work, especially at the beginning of their dementia journey.

There are many benefits to staying in work for someone living with dementia; it can help to maintain social connections as well as helping to maintain cognitive ability. Here we will discuss just some of the reason’s dementia doesn’t necessarily mean retirement, and why continuing to work whilst on the dementia journey can be beneficial.

Maintain Activity Level

As dementia does not necessarily limit the ability to stay active in the first instance, staying in work can be beneficial for maintaining a higher activity level. Staying active can help ensure that mobility doesn’t deteriorate and can help the person retain independence.

Activity, however, doesn’t just refer to physical movement but also refers to keeping the brain active. Continuing to do activities which keep the brain active and engaged can help to maintain cognitive ability for longer. Staying in work can provide an outlet for these activities, alongside hobbies and other social activities out of work.

Socialisation Opportunities

Loneliness and social isolation are a big concern for someone living with dementia, especially for those who retire early. Staying in employment for longer can offer various social benefits to help reduce loneliness. This may involve leaving a current role or switching responsibilities, or perhaps even moving to a workplace on a voluntary basis. There are plenty of roles which could be both suitable and enjoyable to help improve and maintain socialisation levels.

Maintain Independence

For many people on their dementia journey, independence can be maintained at home for a long time. Therefore, it should be possible to maintain this level of independence in the workplace also. It is of course important to be mindful of changes in ability and requirements as time progresses but if adaptions can be made, it can be beneficial to stay in a familiar work role. A level of independence can be highly beneficial for those living with dementia as it can help to boost mood and feelings of self-worth.

Knowing your Rights

The Equality Act (2010) states that employers must avoid discrimination against those living with dementia and make reasonable adjustments to ensure they are not disadvantaged in the workplace. This applies to all those with dementia under retirement age (65). Appropriate support should also be provided by employers throughout the dementia journey and when the time comes for work to cease, the right information and support should be provided; and, the same goes for those employees who do not wish to carry on with work.

It is important that those living with dementia, their carers and families are aware of these rights when it comes to remaining in work.