Almost 46 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and the number can rise to a staggering 131.5 million by 2050! A diagnosis of dementia means you are already familiar with the way this disorder affects all areas of your life; Socializing becomes difficult and so can holding down a job permanently.
So, in case you are an employer who is looking to make working life of an employee with dementia easier, you need to check out this article for ways on how to do that! Alternatively, if you happen to be an employee with dementia who is unsure if he or she should continue showing up day after day, it is suggested that you keep at it; here’s why:
Jobs that stimulate your intellect and involve complex interactions with people can be beneficial for the brain. Research shows that such activities slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the leading cause of dementia.
University of Wisconsin’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center conducted a study in which age-based cognitive decline was tracked in over 200 people. The researchers reported that the type of job a person does was related to Alzheimer’s. All the participants in this study were chosen because they were at higher risk of developing this mental disorder since they had at least one parent who had had it. Occupational complexity that required the participants to do intricate work protected them from the onset of Alzheimer’s. Professions like speech pathologist, physician, lawyer, and dentist meant these people exercised more brain power than others.
Besides advantages for the individuals who are at risk for dementia, staying employed also has economic benefits. Dementia costs the US $818 billion in terms of healthcare and other expenses. It is thought that this cost exceeds the market value of giants like Apple by US$ 76 billion and Google by US$ 450 billion!
Staying employed when you have dementia is advantageous. However, it can also become increasingly difficult with the progression of the disease. So, what can you do to keep working? How do you ensure that you continue your job?
Below, we have gathered several tips that can help make employment more comfortable for you:
Discuss reasonable adjustments with your employer
Incorporating the following changes will make continuing work easier for you without having to ask your employer to make considerable allowances in your case:
- Organize your work by labeling storage and filing clearly
- Ask for an office located in a quieter part of the workplace. This will minimize distraction and allow you to function better
- Request that the path you usually take from your desk to the entrance of the office building be marked with clear signage. It will assist you in getting from one place to another without much effort
- Depending on your condition, have your working hours changed or request your manager for some flexibility
Expect old issues to come revisiting
Relapses are a reality when it comes to mental illnesses. You probably aren’t a stranger to them anyway. So, when you are planning what to do in case of new problems at the workplace, don’t forget to factor in a visit from older ones. This is the healthiest approach you can take, and it will also make these relapses of a temporary nature. Outline any possible stressors that you may face at the workplace, especially those which could still have an impact on your performance. Have you had trouble communicating with others in the past? Then discuss it with your employer in advance. It might take some time to come up with well-developed and effective coping strategies. Nevertheless, you will get there!
Don’t assume anything
You might think your boss won’t understand it if you asked for paid leave on difficult days. Don’t let that hold you back from discussing this with them. A person with dementia might not want to be open due to the stigma attached to this disease. This will only complicate issues. Failing to show up day after day without notifying your boss of the real reason for your absences can have its own consequences. A capable manager would be willing to work with you if you make an effort too. Failing to do that can lead to loss of trust, which won’t be good for anybody!
Put it in writing
Office rules and regulations that concern you should be put in writing. Dementia can often create confusion in mind, which is why having it all in writing might help diffuse difficult situations. Don’t just go with the documentation that is designed for general use. Sit down with your manager and draft something where the meaning is clear to you. With your help, they can formulate the right kind of wording where there will be no room for mistaking the intent or ambiguity.
Worrying about office gossip
It is widely accepted that with a dementia diagnosis also comes the stigma attached to it. You might be working at a place where office gossip is more of a problem than elsewhere. Even so, awareness and acceptance of this mental disorder is creating dementia-friendly communities. If you think your workmates are gossiping about you, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they don’t know much about your condition, and that makes them curious. Talk to them if you can and help understand what you are going through. If communication is difficult for you, you can request your boss to help smooth the way.
Struggling with dementia might make you quit
Yes, dementia is a progressive condition. At some point, you may have to quit work because the struggle becomes too much for you. However, don’t throw in the towel after the first mishap! In fact, the time where you can’t function at work might be far off. That is why you shouldn’t give up just after receiving your diagnosis or returning to work after it. If you lead with a defeated mindset, then you will feel demotivated. Chronic demotivation could end up making you quit your job prematurely!
Honest communication with your employer will clear up most of the confusion. Meet with them regularly and don’t be afraid to discuss a modified role if that is what it takes to keep you working. For tips on other aspects of living with dementia, check out braintest reviews.