GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 5, 2012

Signs of dementia were more apparent at work than home

:Dear Abby: Alzheimer’s and other dementias are a growing epidemic in America. Frequently, co-workers are the ones who notice a decline in functioning.

Could you please remind your readers to speak up to a family member when they see their co-workers struggling? My 62-year-old husband was recently diagnosed, and I have since learned that his co-workers spotted his troubles long before I did at home. Had I been informed, he could possibly have retired on disability and have Medicare today (which he does not now). Additionally, he would have known to have structured his retirement to include survivorship on his pension, which he did not.

I realize his co-workers were in a difficult spot, so I’m not blaming them, but I’m hoping a few words from you might get the word out to others: Friends, when you notice someone is declining, please speak up.

Donna In Virginia

Dear Donna: I’m sorry about your husband’s diagnosis. Although there have been warnings that it was coming for years, the Alzheimer’s epidemic is here now and millions more families will be touched by this progressive — and ultimately fatal — disease unless its course can be altered.

As you have so poignantly stated, there are benefits to the early detection of Alzheimer’s, including the opportunity to take advantage of available treatments, leverage resources in the workplace, plan for the future and seek help.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, knowing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and speaking up when you notice them are CRITICAL to early detection and receiving the best possible care. While this may be an uncomfortable conversation, if you notice these signs in anyone — including a colleague — it is extremely important to share your concerns with the family or with someone in human resources. The person should be evaluated by a physician. A doctor will be able to determine whether the symptoms are caused by Alzheimer’s disease or something else.

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