It is not uncommon for people of working age to be diagnosed with dementia. Many are perfectly capable of lasting for years, but employers are often unaware of it.
Whenever IT consultant Doug Banks goes to a job interview ̵
In the beginning everything goes smoothly. The hiring manager will be impressed by all the skills and experience detailed in his lengthy 30-year CV. Doug will be asked when he can start and, oh, is there anything else he wants to mention?
Well, yes, Doug will say, there is something.
In 2016, he was told that there was posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), also known as Benson syndrome, a rare form of Alzheimer's disease. Many of those affected, such as 59-year-old Doug – and Terry Pratchett, the fantasy author who died in 2015 at the age of 66 – are diagnosed at a relatively young age.
Unlike others with dementia, people with PCA tend to retain their memory until relatively late – but usually have image processing problems that make it difficult to recognize objects and faces.
In his job interviews, Doug doesn't even have to bring up his dementia. He will often say that he has visual impairment. It only needs a few sensible settings, such as software that allows it to talk to your computer rather than using the keyboard. Of course, no problem, he'll be told.
And then nothing happens. "I don't get the job, somebody else gets it," he says. Before dementia came into his life, he said he would take the contract nine times out of 10.
Shortly after he was diagnosed, Doug told his employer at the time. At first Doug's line manager asked him what he needed for support. He seemed to excel in a technical role – his writing was mess, but it could be worked around. "I'm a pragmatic person, so I thought – well, the sky hasn't fallen, I can still go out and still be able to work," he says. By the time his contract was completed, he had assumed that he would be renewed.
But the leader told him that they were looking for someone "more strategic". And hires someone else.
If he was adamant that he was diagnosed with a form of dementia, according to him, the reaction from employers would have been even worse: "They are scared. The first thing they think of is memory. Then they think old people. Then they think that someone you can't talk to, talk to or do something with – and that is, they will die. "
According to Alzheimer's, there are 45,000 people in the UK between the ages of 30 and 65 with dementia, and 18% of them continue to work after their diagnosis. They may have mortgages to pay, as Doug did when he learned that they have a condition, or they may have dependent children to provide. Alternatively, it may simply be that they are still fully capable of working and want to continue to do so as best they can.
Dementia refers to a set of symptoms caused by many diseases of the m The most common symptom is memory loss, especially the struggle to remember recent events. the right word in conversation
The specific symptoms will depend on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that causes dementia
Alzheimer's disease is the most common disease that causes dementia. Others include vascular dementia, Levi's body dementia, frontal-temporal dementia, Parkinson's dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and newly discovered late part.
Dementia: The Biggest Health Challenge of Our Time
A YouGov study in April 2019 suggested 30% believed that people with dementia had stopped working. But that's not the case, says Emma Bould of the Alzheimer's Society.
"Dementia is an umbrella term – some conditions can be quite aggressive and progress quite quickly, maybe in a few years," she says. "But it can take five, 10, 15 years with other people before it really starts to affect people's abilities."
In the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 says that people should not be elected for redundancy or being forced to retire due to dementia (in Northern Ireland they are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act). Employers are also required to make reasonable adjustments to help people with the condition do their jobs. In practice, however, this is not always the case.
When a doctor told Bernie McRae, age 61, that he was in the early stages of dementia, she worked as a caregiver for adults with learning disabilities. She said she was still shocked when she called the agency that hired her in zero hours. They told her that in the future they would get someone to cover her shifts and asked her to return her uniform.
Initially, she did not think much of the agency's reaction. It wasn't until days and weeks later, when the effects began to subside, that she considered it premature.
"I was doing normal – I did my job well enough," says Bernie of Newtonschwartt, Tyrone County. "I never had any complaints about it. I was always available day and night. I loved the work I did. I loved working with people. I know I could go on."
This is a problem that is likely to grow in palpability. Globally, around 50 million people are currently living with dementia and the number of cases is expected to reach 130 million by 2050 as the population ages.
Tony Bayer, professor of geriatric medicine at Cardiff University, quotes President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, actor and television presenter Prunella Libra and Pratchett – who has published two best-selling books that have been diagnosed as having been diagnosed high-level tasks while in the early stages of dementia.
Where to get help
The Alzheimer's Society
Caring for the United Kingdom
The Friends of Dementia
The Age of Great Britain
"Dementia is progressive, so unfortunately there comes a time when work it's not practical, but it goes on for months, years, and it really depends on where you are on that trajectory, what the consequences are for daily life.
"Most people with early dementia are as safe as you and me – actually a little more, because they can take care of it and begnat dangerous situations. "
And are the benefits that work can have on the welfare of the person providing routine fellowship and a sense of satisfaction – and of course income.
For Doug, the financial consequences were dire.
His profits "went from about 120,000 pounds a year to zero," he says. His wife's part-time job at a local post office earns £ 500 a month, and Doug is entitled to about £ 1,000 a month in Universal Pay and personal independence. "That money doesn't really cover everything. We always have to save and save, "Doug says. To clear their mortgage, they sold their house and reduced it to a property in Upper Rissington, Gloucestershire. He is still too young to claim his state pension.
He acknowledges that as a contractor he has always been exposed to the vagaries of short-term employment. Nevertheless, he prefers to share his skills and contribute to the economy rather than asking for money from the government.
"Even now I have the feeling that I have something to give. I still have all the knowledge and experience, "he says. "All I can do now is be well and look forward to some developments in dementia research."
Follow John Kelly on Twitter @mrjonkelly
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