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  1. #1

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    Co-worker showing signs of Alzheimer's

    I work in State Government. (for a state on the East Coast). A co-worker (who has been there over 30 years) is showing signs of Alzheimers disease and very little is being done about it. Tasks that used to be routine for her she can no longer do without asking OVER and OVER how to do them. She has peed herself twice at her desk- one time sitting in urine ALL DAY LONG! They can no longer send her out of the office to do field work (for obvious safety and liability reasons) They now have her dealing with the public on the phones (and she is NOT following proper office phone procedures). Another woman in the office (who rents a room to her) doesn't want to get involved. She just says "I stay upstairs and she stays downstairs". This co-worker is not on good terms with her family. Administration in my office is hoping that she will just go ahead and retire. One
    well-meaning co-worker told her she should file a grievance about being assigned to phone duty, When the Personnel Dept at our agency headquarters heard this they told management in our office NOT to discuss any of this with her. (They are apparently more concerned about a grievance than doing what is best for her!) I think they should at LEAST require her to go to a state appointed doctor to have an evaluation to prove her mental ability to perform the job! What do you all think?

    I also forgot to mention that she has stopped taking baths.

  2. #2
    snarking for AZE
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    that's really sad
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  3. #3

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    Scary. Do you have an Ombudsman in the AG or Secretary of State's office? That might be a place to start. She needs to be evaluated for medical disability.
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    What a terrible situation and sounds very sad. She probably has no-one in her life outside of work who can help her. If you work for a government agency surely something can be done. Are there other people in office who feel that something should be done? Sounds like someone needs to take control of the situation.

    Also it seems like the workplace is the only place where people would notice her. If she wasn't there goodness knows what would happen to her.
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    Perhaps a call to Adult Protective Services as well.

  6. #6

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    A call to Adult Protective Services is the best suggestion, also you may want to call the Alzheimer's Association for guidance.

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    Oriole -- good of you to be thinking about her. I'd also try Adult Protective Services. Does your department have an employee services line where you can call and speak with a counselor in a number of different areas? I know of situations where that was used effectively to get another employee treatment for alcoholism after a number of co-workers realized that there was a significant problem. It would be much better for her to take a disability pension and get help with an adult day care or similar program than to end up getting fired or getting hurt because her situation is just ignored.

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    That is really sad. There are new drugs and treatments for Alzheimers everyday, but early detection is key. They are not doing her any favours by ignoring her condition. I hope she gets treatment soon.

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    Well there are two perspectives to the discussion that impact the decision to take action.

    The first piece relates strictly to her job. What I mean is that, even though there are signs there is an issue, you can only really talk to her in the context of her performance. That is, only her supervisor can, assuming she is not performing her duties as assigned/documented AND her supervisor feels some sort of remedial action is necessary. If neither are the case there isn't much you can do, legally. The employee handbook (or equivalent) would likely have no clear cut consequence of her sitting in her urine all day or smelling bad. Because of this, it's difficult to force any action.

    Then you switch gears and look at the situation from the perspective of a humanitarian. All you can do there is talk to her like a friend, asking her if anything is wrong or if you can help. If she says no there isn't a problem and you can't convince her of that, then there isn't all that much you can do.

    Boils down to you probably needing a serious breech of job accountabilities or protocol per documented job and behavioral standards to actually force her to get help. So, best you can do is offer support to her but otherwise it's her supervisor's problem, officially.

    Hope it works out.

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    One other thing, you said "Administration in my office is hoping that she will just go ahead and retire."

    It might be useful to point out to "Administration" that she may not have the mental capacity to "retire" in the normal sense of the word. Formally retiring means that she would need to submit the proper paperwork and have the ability to follow up with the Pension Board and Social Security. Clearly, she cannot do so on her own and would need help from HR.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aceon6 View Post
    One other thing, you said "Administration in my office is hoping that she will just go ahead and retire."

    It might be useful to point out to "Administration" that she may not have the mental capacity to "retire" in the normal sense of the word. Formally retiring means that she would need to submit the proper paperwork and have the ability to follow up with the Pension Board and Social Security. Clearly, she cannot do so on her own and would need help from HR.
    I was going to say this! I don't think she is capable of properly retiring. She may even think about doing so but forget the next day that the thought ever crossed her mind. I think the only way this can end, without intervention, is really badly. She will probably get lost driving one day or forget to turn off her stove and burn down the house. Someone needs to intervene but unfortunately I don't know how to go about doing that.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmscfdcsu View Post
    Perhaps a call to Adult Protective Services as well.
    Good sugestion. That thought came to my mind as well.

    Poor lady, bless her heart.
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    Who is supervising this person? Do you work under the same person? He/she is definitely dropping the ball regarding their management responsibilities. Sending her for physical/mental health evaluation would be the way my organisation would handle it with the support of HR.

    Is there any way you and some co-workers could talk to HR about this from the stand point of a problematic work environment? They seem to be afraid of getting a grievance from her but at some point they might get it from her co-workers too.

    My heart goes out to her though, what a sad, sad situation to be in. Losing her dignity with everybody at work watching. As BigB08822, she might also hurt herself badly at some point too.

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    I wouldn't be so quick to label her condition Alzheimer's. I've (unfortunately) got some experience with that and the bit about peeing and then sitting in her own urine is something that would happen much, much later in the disease than she seems to be. There are other forms of dementia . In any case, it's awfully strange that supervisory folk aren't stepping up here and, as others said before me, Adult Protective Services is place to start.
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    This is really odd and sad. If anyone where I work ( I work for the county level in NJ) had these issues, HR would most definitely get involved. Sitting in urine can be a health hazard, not only to her but to others. Also if I was the person who lives with her, I'd be concerned about fire hazards if she's suffering from dementia.

    I'm not saying I don't work with a few people who have some screws loose, but not to that extent. As a supervisor, I would make sure something got done for this person and for her coworkers who have to deal with the effects of the condition. This person seems like she is borderline a danger to herself.

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    Someone needs to step in........she could even have a brain tumor, But there are drugs for alz., and the sooner the better. My mother has alz. and they are not able to take care of themselves. Forget to eat, get lost and yes they are fire hazards. That is so sad.

  17. #17
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    My husband saved the life of a co-worker who was mere hours away from dying when he took him to the hospital, and insisted that they investigate more thoroughly. The emergency staff had sent him home earlier in the day, as they thought he was perfectly okay- just a scruffy older man. He had no family to explain to the doctors that he was not acting at all normal. If my husband's aunt had not been the head nurse that night, I don't think my husband could have got them to listen either. His symptoms were so minor that to people who didn't know him, it seemed a waste of the medical systems time to bother with giving him any tests.

    The poor guy with the brain tumour was just using a few swear words that he wouldn't usually use, and being less fastidious with his hygiene, and a bit confused about time, and yet the doctors who operated and removed the tumour said he probably would have been dead in two days.
    ‎"You emerge victorious from the maze you've been travelling in." Oct 21,2012- Best Fortune Cookie Ever!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrioleBeagle View Post
    What do you all think?
    I also forgot to mention that she has stopped taking baths.
    Some countries have a mandatory health check for all workers at least once a year and the employer is the one who pays for it (if the health care is not free like in my birth place).
    But her boss is rather weird. He/she should do something. Do you have some workers' organization or somesuch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjblue View Post
    The poor guy with the brain tumour was just using a few swear words that he wouldn't usually use, and being less fastidious with his hygiene, and a bit confused about time, and yet the doctors who operated and removed the tumour said he probably would have been dead in two days.
    This happened at own of my old workplaces... unfortunately the ending was not so positive.
    I kept hearing from my pupils that this other teacher was using swear words / being generally disorganised and irrational. My boss insisted he was a model employee who had worked there for 30 years without any trouble.

    Six months later, he lost his sight and it was discovered he was in the late stages of brain cancer

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