Talking to an employee showing signs of dementia

Talking to an employee showing signs of dementia

It’s important and helpful to know that the warning signs of dementia are sometimes confused with performance issues in the workplace. Your employee may forget meetings or appointments, lose track of time, misplace things, forget how to carry out standard processes or familiar tasks, and more. Your employee may also not know these issues are happening or feel confused about what is happening and try to hide the shortcomings.

If you notice an employee exhibiting one or more warning signs of dementia, you should encourage them to consult a doctor.


Supporting workplace performance

When you decide to speak with an employee you believe is showing signs of dementia, it is recommended that you:

  • Choose a location that is familiar, private, quiet, and non-threatening for your employee.
  • Choose a time when you won’t be rushed and is convenient to your employee.
  • Give some thought to the following questions before you talk to your employee:
    • Have they noticed they are experiencing challenges?
    • Do the symptoms potentially reflect natural aging?
    • What could be stopping your employee from consulting a doctor?
    • What can you share with the employee to reassure them that it is in their best interest to consult a doctor?
    • Do they usually prefer to have a lot of information, or do they usually prefer to take things one step at a time?
  • Start the conversation by asking your employee how they have been feeling and if they have noticed any differences.
  • Share your observations about your employee’s behaviours without judgment or commenting on how they are affecting you or the workplace.
  • Ask your employee to consult a doctor.
  • Let your employee know that you are sharing your observations and making this request because you care about them and want to offer support.
  • If your employee expresses concern about missing work to consult a doctor or fear about how a health issue could affect their employment, share with them information about:
    • any relevant employee benefits offered by your organization, including time provided to attend medical appointments.
    • the Alberta Human Rights Act, including Alberta employers’ duty to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with health-related challenges confirmed by a doctor unless they cause undue hardship.