Early Dementia and Employment Can Mix

Dementia patients may continue their jobs

(RxWiki News) How long can someone keep a job after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia? Here's some information to help make the tough decision when to quit or alter a job.

Discuss working with dementia with your family and physician.

Major points to consider include how much a job involves safety issues, responsibility, stress and repetition. Sometimes a job can be adjusted to be easier, according to Neurology Now, the American Academy of Neurology's magazine for consumers.

By the time dementia is actually diagnosed, it has often progressed to the point where it is time to stop working. Quit before you make a major mistake, advises Dr. Anthony LoGalbo, a neuropsychologist at Florida Hospital Neuroscience Institute in Orlando. He is one of several dementia experts Neurology Now interviewed.

Safety is a key question. It's important to stop working right away if a job involves a physical hazard, large responsibility or a lot of stress, says Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the geriatric psychiatry division at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Someone diagnosed with early dementia also might continue working long if the job:

  • Is low pressure. Stressful jobs are particularly hard on people with dementia.
  • Has a lot of repetition. People with dementia stop learning new information, but old memories and patterns remain until dementia becomes far advanced. Dementia is really a learning disorder, not a memory disorder.
  • Involves using personality traits and talents such as the ability to work with people. Those things don't change until later in dementia, Dr. Kennedy says.

Other ways to continue working include having coworkers do difficult parts of the job. Or a person might change to a less demanding job. Working fewer hours also might help if someone with early dementia needs more time to rest.

Review Date: 
December 14, 2011