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The misconception that dementia is something that only affects older people can mean those of working age who suffer from early-onset dementia can be misdiagnosed, ignored or fall through the net when it comes to support. Yet there is actually much that employers, with the help of occupational health, can do to keep valued employees with early-onset dementia in the workplace and thriving, argues Marcus Beaver.
It is a common misconception that dementia is a condition of older age. This is despite the fact there are many people in the workplace living with early-onset dementia, while thousands more been misdiagnosed with depression or menopause symptoms.
There are cases of people being performance-managed out of the workplace as a result of this. The sad fact is many employers have no idea that dementia is something that they need to look out for.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and 45,000 are under the age of 65; women and men. It is another misconception that only women live with dementia.
Couple this with an ageing workforce, and it’s clear that most, if not all, workplaces will have to consider how they deal with employees with dementia in the not-too-distant future.
Bear in mind, too, that dementia is likely to fall within the definition of disability discrimination under the Equality Act, meaning an employer has a legal duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for the employee (of which more later).