What to look for

If you are diagnosed with dementia, concerned you may have dementia, or caring for someone with dementia, you may be worried about how this will affect you and your job. We will help you access information to explore your options and make informed decisions.


What to look for

Memory challenges and struggles at work can be warning signs for dementia, and people living with dementia often say their first symptoms of dementia appeared while they were at work.

Forgetting meetings or appointments, losing track of time, misplacing things, struggling to find words, and even mood changes can be part of aging, a result of stress, or even signs of depression. They can also be the warning signs of dementia. Don’t be too quick to dismiss experiences or behaviours that are out of the ordinary. Speak with a doctor to identify the root of changes that you or others notice in your behaviour or the behaviour of someone you care about. 

A dementia diagnosis:

  • will provide a legal foundation for employment rights, and
  • can facilitate access to any available employer and/or community-based programs, services, and support, such as programs and services offered by the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, mood changes, and problems with communicating and reasoning. These symptoms occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia but there are more than 100 other types, including vascular dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Warning signs of dementia

There are many warning signs for dementia and they don’t present the same in everyone. If you are experiencing, or someone in your workplace has suggested that you might be experiencing, any one or more of the below warning signs, please consult a doctor.

People experiencing dementia may forget appointments, to-do items, people’s names, or frequently used words. They may also find it more challenging than usual to learn new things or retain new information.

People experiencing dementia may miss steps or encounter confusion while completing a familiar task, routine, or procedure. This could include activities like operating equipment, entering data, using a tool or technology, or any other type of action completed on a regular basis.

People experiencing dementia may struggle to find frequently used words or use words that don’t make sense in sentences or conversation.

People experiencing dementia may lose track of time more often, struggle to identify the day of the week, or lose their way, get turned around, or forget where they are in familiar buildings and other locations.

People experiencing dementia may uncharacteristically put themselves or others at risk by saying or doing things that affect physical or physiological safety, health, and wellbeing. This can include walking into or even creating hazardous conditions, making verbal outbursts, or overlooking safety protocols.

People experiencing dementia may find it difficult to work with numbers, hard to identify common or easily understood symbols, or challenging to identify patterns and sequences familiar to their job or work environment.

People experiencing dementia may put items required for work or personal effects in places they don’t belong.

People experiencing dementia may exhibit severe changes in mood and behaviours.

People experiencing dementia may exhibit uncharacteristic and unexplainable behaviours that are not natural or usual to their character or personality.

People experiencing dementia may lack motivation to complete work, interest in topics or activities that typically keep them engaged or bring them joy, or a desire to engage with colleagues or participate in mandatory or optional workplace activities.

Only a doctor can confirm if you are living with dementia. It is important to consult a doctor if you are experiencing one or more warning signs of dementia or your memory loss is affecting your job performance, daily living, and/or quality of life.

The difference between age-related memory loss and dementia.

While it’s true that we typically experience more memory challenges as we age, memory loss from dementia is different. If you or someone you care about is experiencing dementia, it is more likely to interfere with job performance, daily living, and quality of life.

Memory loss associated with aging may be frustrating; however, it should not disrupt your ability to:

  • Complete tasks, follow procedures, and adhere to the requirements of your job.
  • Learn and remember new things.
  • Build and maintain healthy relationships. 

If you or someone you care about finds that your memory loss makes normal routines difficult, then it could be a warning sign of dementia or a sign of a mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a small but noticeable decline in your thinking or memory skills. In any case, it is beneficial to consult a doctor.

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