Welcome to the sixth of my seven ‘mini’ blogs for UK Dementia Awareness Week 2014.
Concerns that a person is developing dementia aren’t just restricted to that individual – they also affect those closest to them, bringing complex relationships into play. Over this Awareness Week I want to look at some of the emotions and reactions that underpin the difficult conversations thousands of people are having, or thinking of having, as they open up about dementia.
Day 6 – ‘The understanding employer’
I would venture to suggest that most employers – when questioned about their approach to an employee developing dementia – would say that they can’t cope with employing an individual should they have an official diagnosis.
A greater hammer-blow to a person with early-onset (young-onset) dementia, who may still be in full-time employment and relying on that income, is hard to imagine. It arguably ranks alongside losing your driving license as one of the most pivotally disempowering moments for a person who has developed dementia. Yet looking at each person’s situation individually, and trying to make reasonable modifications to their workload or environment, could enable an employee to continue to work for as long as possible if they want to.
Given the myth that still proliferates that dementia is a disease of ageing, many employers would potentially not think of dementia even if an employee of working age is exhibiting dementia-related symptoms. Yet with the drive to boost diagnosis rates, understanding what dementia is, and how your business could help an employee developing dementia (or indeed an employee who is a carer for an individual with dementia) will become increasingly important.
Opening up to a person you know about your concerns that they may be developing dementia is a conversation most people dread and many seek to postpone for as long as possible. For help and advice on how to broach the topic of dementia, read my blog post ‘Having THAT conversation’.