Her son's heart-breaking social media post thanking Sainsbury's for allowing Yvonne Salomon to continue a job she loved doing with dignity despite battling Alzheimer’s touched the hearts of millions.
Doron Salomon said working the aisles at the supermarket giant where she arrived promptly for her four-hour shift as an ‘online picker’, collecting groceries from customers’ online orders ready for delivery - gave her that sense of pride as her mind gradually let her down.
She always arrived for work promptly and with her uniform neatly pressed,' he said.
Looking at Yvonne as she happily flicks through her family photo album and smiling at the memories of a long and happy marriage to husband Trevor, it is easy to forget she has suffered Alzheimer’s since she was 56.
‘No one deserves to get Alzheimer’s, certainly not at an early age, it not fair,’ Trevor Salomon tells MailOnline.
‘It is sad. It should not have happened but there’s nothing we can do about it. Yvonne has come to terms with it.
‘Now she has her own dictionary of words that only she knows, but we can laugh about it.’
Sitting on the sofa together at their home in Pinner, north London, the couple laugh and joke as they flick through the pages of a family photo album.
Yvonne’s face lights up at a picture of her daughter Talia’s first day at school and she talks proudly of how her son Doron has always looked out for his little sister – usual reactions from a devoted mother.
But when the mother-of-two fails to find the words to express herself properly, cannot remember the name her children’s school and fails to recognize a portrait of her in-laws, her early on-set of dementia becomes apparent.
Despite this, for the past five years Yvonne has worked at Sainsbury’s providing her with a life-line to a normal life.
As her condition worsened the supermarket chain ‘bent over backwards’ to keep her on, despite the debilitating illness robbing her many of the day to day skills most people take for granted – time-keeping, ability to learn new skills and a sense of direction.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that affects 850,000 people in Britain and is the most common form of dementia.
Some 95 per cent of Alzheimer’s sufferers are over 65.
Yvonne worked filling online orders by ‘picking’ items and placing them in the plastic ‘tote’ that is delivered to homes from the supermarket in Harrow, north London.
When she could not find the items Sainsbury’s limited the number of aisles she had to choose from. When she could not remember when to clock-in and clock-out, a colleague would help her. When she was found wandering lost in the store, managers found her a back-room job.
But when it finally became apparent that Yvonne could no longer cope and called time, her son Doron thanked the supermarket in a moving tribute posted on twitter.
‘Sainsbury’s were more than just an employer,’ he wrote. ‘They supported her like a family. They made her struggle lighter and brighter.
‘They served as a reminder of her self-worth every day at a time when she was quite literally losing everything she once was.’
Despite losing her job the past seven days have been a roller coaster for Yvonne and energetic husband Trevor, 65, a retired marketing director.
‘I never would have believed people were interested in us and our story,’ Trevor told MailOnline as he sat with Yvonne on the sofa at their home in Pinner, north-west London.
‘We’ve had messages from friends in New Zealand and cousins in America who read about Doron’s blog.’
Doron Salomon added: ‘I couldn’t belief the response. I have been overwhelmed. But I felt I had to say something, to thanks Sainsbury’s for how they looked after my mum over the years.’
Trevor is adamant Yvonne’s story is not one of sadness or misery.
But the couple have agreed to talk as a means to offer hope to other families trying to deal with a diagnosis of a loved-one.
‘It’s a bloody nuisance that Yvonne has Alzheimer’s,’ Trevor told MailOnline.
‘But it’s not holding us back because we have changed our lives accordingly.’
Married for 31 years the couple met in the 1978 at a young people’s social group.
‘I tried to shut on the door on Yvonne because the house was already full,’ Trevor recalls.
‘But this forceful ginger woman pushed her way saying she had come a long way!
‘She had these lovely eyes and a huge smile. I liked her from the start.’
Shortly afterwards the couple moved in together and married a few years later in 1987. They soon had children, Doron, now 29 and Talia, 28.
Yvonne, who worked a merchandise buyer in the fashion industry, gave up her job to look after the children as Trevor travelled frequently in his role as marketing director in the IT industry.
However, one day in 2011 changed the course of the family’s lives when it became apparent there was something seriously wrong with Yvonne.
‘We were talking about what we did the day before and Yvonne couldn’t remember anything about it. Not a thing,’ Trevor explained.
‘My father Jerry had suffered from Alzheimer’s so I saw the signs – mood swings, frustration, anger and a loss of short-term memory.’
‘But it took me a long time to persuade her to go to the doctor.
‘In the end we agreed that we would both do a test – because like a lot of Alzheimer sufferers she would not accept that there was anything wrong with her.’
Yvonne’s score from the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) test revealed what her loved-ones feared – that she was suffering from early on-set dementia.
By this time the children had grown up and Yvonne had gone to work, taking up a part-time position at Sainsbury’s
Trevor took the courageous move to inform her employers immediately about her diagnosis.
‘The doctor sent Sainsbury’s a formal letter about her diagnosis,’ he said.
‘I did not expect them to fire her but I did not know where it was going.
‘They were brilliant. They limited her role when she was having difficulties. They kept making her job easier and easier. They made sure she was not stressed and could cope.’
Finally, at the beginning of the year it became apparent that Yvonne, now 61, was struggling to cope.
‘Yvonne was becoming worried about going to work,’ Trevor explained. ‘She had stopped driving in 2016 because she no longer felt safe. And she having increasingly confused at work.’
Her final work day was last Saturday.
Now the couple keep busy ‘doing something every day’ and with their loving children, close friends and ‘good neighbours’ nearby the help.
And Trevor is determined to help others cope with the condition.
‘I would urge anyone worried that a loved-one has Alzheimer’s to go to the doctors straight away,’ he told MailOnline.
‘If they are diagnosed, then I suggest they tell everyone that needs to know – family, friends, employer.
‘There’s no shame in having dementia. No one deserves to get it. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
‘Keep them safe, well-nourished, fit and keep their mind as active as possible.
‘Just don’t push people away. Those who love you will want to help.’