Dementia diagnosis and employment
I have been asked recently about the support I was given by my employers, when I was diagnosed with early onset Lewy Body Dementia at the age of 56, and I was too embarrassed to say anything.
I was lucky to have been given a lot of help by the university doctors during the diagnosis, but they were horrified to discover that my employers did not really want me back at work.
They made me take the decision of whether to go back as a cleaner after being an engineer for over 28 years, or take early retirement on medical grounds.
I was advised to go for the second option as they like myself felt insulted, by their answer.
But when we look around many employers do exactly the same simply because they don’t understand the illness and are also totally embarrassed that one of their staff have this type of illness.
I know that I am not the only one this has happened to, but it does not help others, so things must change and change for the better.
Yet other people in more high profile jobs had come out the same way as me, from college lecturers to other jobs.
Employers need to be made to understand what the illness is and what they can do about it in the early stages, such as support, and any help available.
If they don’t understand the problems they are up against they should go out and ask, those who have the knowledge, or they should look it up themselves.
I know that in all honesty I could not have carried on doing my job, but I do think they could have looked at this in a more caring way than simply come up with this type of answer.
To say that they doctor was upset was an understatement, she was nearly spitting blood with anger when she read the response from my employer, and then was too embarrassed to tell me until she cooled down.
Perhaps it was not professional of her to lose her cool, like that as she was a quiet spoken lady, but I think she shared my feelings and where I hit my hurt she let it all go.
To her the thought of me going back as a cleaner after all those years was just not on, and I understood this when it was all explained.
I think that the other problem was that my employers clearly were not interested in finding out more information about the illness, perhaps because they were stuck in the past with their memories if any of dementia, and were incapable of looking at the obvious
I cannot remember much of my job, which is not a bad thing, so perhaps I took the right decision