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Employers & Colleagues

Mother and daughter looking and smartphone

In many instances, people in the early stages of a rare dementia can maintain work. This can be dependent on the type of work and the workplace’s ability to provide accommodation. It is not uncommon that symptoms may first present themselves in the workplace. This could include changes to a person’s ability to problem solve, do a complex task, navigate a physical space or do tasks quickly.  

Maintaining positive relationships at work, with both the employer and colleagues, is important. When symptoms go unrecognized for what they are, or are not accommodated, this can be interpreted as a work performance issue. When a person living with a diagnosis is best supported to do their job, it will have a positive impact on their health, well-being and their work relationships. 

Support, or accommodation, in the workplace can include: 

  • shorter workdays to mitigate fatigue
  • asking colleagues to write down requests rather than relying on verbal information-sharing
  • having access to meeting minutes as soon as possible
  • using technology, such as a watch or phone, that can provide reminders and help to stay on task 
  • adjustments to a workspace to address visual or perceptual challenges

In Canada there is legislation around accessibility. Dementia is considered a medical disability. Employers are required to provide accommodation to workers up until the point of undue hardship to the employer. For people living with dementia, there is the choice to share the diagnosis or medical disability with an employer and the choice to share with colleagues. Choosing to share the diagnosis with colleagues in the workplace may have both advantages and challenges. While being open and honest with a disability can help to build understanding and the ability for the team to provide support, there is also the possibility that stigma and the misunderstanding of a diagnosis may be a challenge.