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Dementia Symptoms While in Paid Employment

Diversity and Inclusion, Disability Management, Human Resources, Leadership, Mental Health, Psychosocial Factors
Free 1hr
Retirement is considered a rite of passage at a nominal age in developed countries including the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. However, there is growing international concern that people are living well beyond 'retirement age'.

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Retirement is considered a rite of passage at a nominal age in developed countries including the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. However, there is growing international concern that people are living well beyond ‘retirement age’. Consequently, there have been strategic shifts in government policy worldwide to increase workforce participation of older workers.  Therefore, the number of individuals presenting with signs and symptoms of a dementia whilst still in paid work is also likely to increase. Meanwhile many employers and their HR representatives consider they are ill-equipped to both recognize symptoms of cognitive decline in the workplace; and address issues associated with managing the impact on workforce participation when a worker experiences onset and progression of dementia.

Take-home messages:

  • Dementia refers to a progressive set if symptoms of cognitive decline and onset is not limited to only older populations.
  • A large proportion of people who develop younger onset dementia (onset at <65years) will be working.
  • Approximately one in every 1000 people or 3.4% of the US population under the age of 65 have some form of dementia.
  • Approximately 42 000 people under the age of 65 in the UK are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Approximately 27 000 people under the age of 65 in Australia are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Approximately 16 000 people under the age of 65 in Canada are living with symptoms of dementia.
  • Obtaining a timely diagnosis of dementia becomes problematic when symptoms are misattributed to other factors such as stress, substance abuse, or a normal part of ageing.
  • In contrast to normal age related changes in functional capacity, a worker with dementia may experience progressively worsening short term memory loss, difficulties with planning, problem solving and sequencing tasks, poor orientation to time and place, and problems recognizing familiar people or objects.
  • The extent to which dementia impacts on functional capacity to remain engaged in paid work differs between individuals due to variations in dementia type and progression, as well as differences in the physical, cognitive and psycho-social task complexities across occupations.

Learning Outcomes

Addressing disparities between inherent requirements of the job and a worker's decline in functional capacity that may be related to dementia;
provision of reasonable workplace adjustments in line with workforce participation choices and legal obligations; and
enabling a supported transition to medical retirement

Speakers

Catherine Andrew
Catherine Andrew is an Occupational Therapist teaching in the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy program at Southern Cross University, and PhD candidate, University of Wollongong, Australia. Since graduating in 1984, she has worked across a range of clinical settings in Australia and USA. She has specialist qualifications as a registered occupational therapy driving assessor and in 2014, co-authored the Dementia and Driving Decision Aid. Catherine is a certified practicing ergonomist with extensive experience in workplace injury management. She is currently undertaking research with people living dementia to identify enablers and barriers to extending workforce participation and supporting the experience of transitioning to retirement.

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