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New White Paper: Guidance for Addressing Dementia in the Workplace

New White Paper: Guidance for Addressing Dementia in the Workplace
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July 1, 2024
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  • As U.S. workforce ages, cognitive impairment in workplaces is on the rise
  • New paper from Alzheimer’s Association and Bank of America encourages companies to create and foster dementia-friendly workplaces

CHICAGO, July 1, 2024 — A new white paper released today by the Alzheimer’s Association and Bank of America offers guidance aimed at helping U.S. employers navigate a growing concern: increased rates of cognitive impairment and dementia in the workplace.

The paper, "Cognitive Impairment in the Workplace: Compassionate approaches for a hidden but growing concern," reports rates of cognitive impairment and dementia in the workplace are on the rise. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. workers (19%) are age 65 or older, nearly double the amount in 1987. The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is increasing age. It is estimated that 1 in 9 Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s.

“As our population and workforce ages, the possibility of having employees who experience cognitive impairment is real,” said Katie Evans, chief programs & mission engagement officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “Workplaces can no longer ignore this hidden issue of cognitive impairment. Our white paper is aimed at helping companies and organizations address this reality in a way that is responsible and respectful for both the employee and employer. Ultimately, our goal is to encourage dementia-friendly workplaces.”

Workplaces are often one of the first places where cognitive impairment surfaces for affected individuals and can have adverse effects on an organization’s productivity and work culture. It can also have serious financial and legal implications for both the company and employee, according to the paper.

Most employees experiencing cognitive problems do not disclose these concerns to employers due to stigma or fear of losing their job. Failure to address concerns proactively, however, can increase  workplace stress, including coworkers covering for the individual or having colleagues and supervisors wrongly attribute an employee’s declining job performance to psychiatric illness, laziness or substance use. Employees living with dementia can be reprimanded, demoted or terminated before cognitive impairment is diagnosed or even suspected.

The new paper offers several recommendations for creating and fostering a dementia-friendly workplace, including:

  • Providing training to human resources personnel and supervisors on the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia and on basic disability law through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Encouraging employees to seek medical advice for early diagnosis and treatment, maintain healthy habits, and manage their health.
  • Helping employees fully understand disability benefits and retirement and work options.
  • Considering accommodations for employees who wish to keep working and are able to, based on job responsibilities and safety. These may include modifying roles and responsibilities, flexible work hours, “buddy” employees and additional supervision.
  • Evaluating the status of any accommodations (from both workers’ and the employer’s perspective), adjustments that may be needed, and employees’ interest in remaining at work versus retiring.
  • Providing training for employees — particularly client-facing employees — on recognizing the warning signs of cognitive decline in the event they experience it in those with whom they interact.
  • Helping to positively transition those living with dementia out of the workplace at the appropriate time by providing support and allowing for a dignified exit.
“By raising awareness and creating policies regarding dementia, companies can support their employees, optimize productivity and foster a compassionate work environment,” said Cynthia Hutchins, director of financial gerontology, Bank of America Workplace Benefits. “An empathetic company culture increases the chances that a worker will disclose cognitive concerns, allowing critical conversations to occur and employees to get support earlier.”

Providing accommodations for employees who wish to keep working and are able to, based on job responsibilities and safety, can retain historical knowledge, preserve workplace teams, and create a positive work culture where employees feel safe acknowledging health problems, according to the paper.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia to help individuals and families identify potential warning signs. Today, there are nearly 7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia. For more information on Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, visit or call the Association’s free 24-7 helpline at 800.272.3900.

About the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia®. Visit or call 800.272.3900.

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