Tuesday 21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. – dementia.org.au (2021).
World Alzheimer’s Day highlights the importance of talking about alzheimers, raising awareness of how it impacts the daily lives of people affected by the condition and challenge the stigma that surrounds it.
In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.
Other symptoms may include:
- Memory loss affecting daily activities, such as an ability to keep appointments
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
- Trouble with familiar tasks, such as using a microwave
- Difficulties with problem-solving
- Trouble with speech or writing
- Becoming disoriented about times or places
- Decreased personal hygiene
- Mood and personality changes
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
Diagnosis, cure and causes:
Diagnosis is made by a doctor and currently there is no cure, however there are treatments that can slow progression and help manage symptoms.
Alzheimer’s may be brought on due to a family history/genetics and age.
How to support somebody with dementia in the workplace:
Some effects on work somebody with dementia may experience include:
- difficulty communicating their thoughts to colleagues or clients
- trouble concentrating
- forgetting important meetings or appointments
- difficulty managing several tasks at one time
- having problems with larger groups and possibly preferring to work alone
- losing confidence in their work abilities
- feeling uncertain about making important decisions
You can support somebody in the workplace with dementia by having these simple conversation starters:
- What checkpoints can we put in place to help you stay on track?
- What should we be looking for that would indicate you are struggling?
- How do you want us to respond when there are performance problems so that you know we are being supportive?
- What would you think would be the signs that working is no longer an option for you?
- What kind of errors might you be concerned about making and how can we help manage these?
- What are the things that most stress or overwhelm you right now?
- Let’s check in every ___ days. What time works for you?
Sources: Healthline (2018). Alzheimers Society (2021). Dementia Australia (2021). Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (2021).