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Companies navigate dementia conversations with older workers

The Associated Press
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Mary Radnofsky, diagnosed with a rare form of leukoencephalopathy and in the early stages of dementia, prepares for her move to a new home that will be more suitable for her declining health, on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Alexandria, Va. Faced with an aging American workforce, U.S. companies are increasingly navigating delicate conversations with employees suffering from cognitive declines or dementia diagnoses, experts say. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
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Mary Radnofsky, diagnosed with a rare form of leukoencephalopathy and in the early stages of dementia, tries to recall a recent phone conversation in her home on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Alexandria, Va. Faced with an aging American workforce, U.S. companies are increasingly navigating delicate conversations with employees suffering from cognitive declines or dementia diagnoses, experts say. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
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Mary Radnofsky, diagnosed with a rare form of leukoencephalopathy and in the early stages of dementia, holds her service dog Benjy at her home, on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Alexandria, Va. Faced with an aging American workforce, U.S. companies are increasingly navigating delicate conversations with employees suffering from cognitive declines or dementia diagnoses, experts say. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

CHICAGO — Experts say that U.S. companies are increasingly navigating delicate conversations with employees suffering from cognitive declines as the American workforce ages.

Workers experiencing early stages of dementia may struggle with tasks they’ve long completed without difficulty. Historically punctual employees may forget about scheduled meetings. And those who have traveled to the same office day after day may begin to lose their way during their morning commutes.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s diagnoses and certain other forms of dementia are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees certain rights and workplace accommodations.

Sarah Wood is the director of global work-life services for a consultation and training organization, North Carolina-based Workplace Options. She says the trick is determining what tasks employees can still perform and what they can still do safely.