Doron Salomon’s mother, who remains unnamed for privacy, was once a very organized woman and good with numbers. She had worked for a long time as a bookkeeper. However, when her early-onset dementia began to significantly affect her memory and her job performance in her 50s, she took a job at Sainsbury as an in-store “picker,” putting together orders for online customers.
Ten years later, this debilitating disease has left her unable to function normally without constant help. Her dementia has progressed so far that her own doctor proclaimed her unemployable, and Salomon and his father anticipated that she would soon be let go from the job she loved. But it didn’t happen.
Instead, Sainsbury continued to retrain her so that she could do her job even when she had difficulty remembering how, and they trained other staff members to know how to help her better. When she was no longer capable of doing her job, they invented a new and easier one for her.
“They created a role that didn’t exist so that there was something in-store she could do, despite the fact her job title has never changed, says Salomon.
During all of this, Salomon’s father was called in to the store on several occasions to try to learn more about his wife’s condition so they could help her more as her condition continued to deteriorate. Each time, he worried that he was being called in to his wife’s workplace to be told she was being let go. But for six months, Sainsbury continued to employ the “unemployable” woman, and she appeared to love every minute at her job.
Finally, six months after Salomon believes Sainsbury had reasonable cause to let his mother go, she finally had her last day on the job. “My mum was emotional but relieved,” Salomon says. “Senior management have acted with compassion and handled everything with class and dignity.”
Thanks to the extra support from Sainsbury, Salomon’s mother was able to maintain a sense of meaning and dignity in her life even as her disease advanced. The world needs more understanding employers like this one who truly care about their employees’ welfare.
Early-onset dementia is a tragic and debilitating form of the disease that affects people as young as thirty years old. Click “next” below to read about the 31-year-old woman with dementia who is not expected to live more than five years.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?