There are some great schemes for people to continue to work or contribute for as long as they can and this has been shown to slow down any progression of the disease. There is a restaurant run by people with dementia. I have also been to farms where many of the workers there have disabilities or special needs.
These organisations are great news for people living with dementia, it shows that although there might be some adaptations that need to be made in order to support people living with dementia, that there are plenty of people very happy to support them and these schemes.
It shows people with dementia that they are still valued and can contribute towards society, that the customers of the restaurant (or other business) and willing to come to the restaurant, because they value the contribution made and want to support people to live their best lives. And it shows how strangers can be really kind.
Inspired by the original restaurant (which is called the restaurant that makes mistakes!), the Alzheimer’s Society in England and Wales has started a scheme to get other restaurants and venues to support people living with dementia. So if the coffee shop that you go to or café is part of the scheme, then your dinner might be made by someone with dementia or they might be serving you!
These kinds of social care interventions to support people help in so many ways, as it breaks any misunderstanding about dementia and what people with dementia are like. Above all else, they are still people, they have families, hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, just like the rest of us.
If someone is working when they have dementia, they do not need to tell their employer, unless they want their employer to make adaptions for them, then they will need to. As the disease progresses, work might become increasingly difficult and any adaptions might become much more significant. It all depends on the kind of work that they do and how easy it is to make the necessary adaptations. Eventually however, the person with dementia will have to give up work. They can still live a happy and fulfilled life, but the complexities of work will eventually become too much for them.
People with dementia are all different, their skills, wishes and lives are all different from each other, they are unique individuals and so each situation needs a unique approach.
If you can support someone with dementia, even if it is just giving them a little patience whilst they take a few seconds longer to make your cup of coffee, then it is a few seconds well spent. Everyone’s day will be better for these little moments of kindness!