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Blue @ Work

Why an Alzheimer's diagnosis isn't a given employee resignation

With Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses showing no signs of slowing down or any substantial cure on the horizon, it’s likely you will have employees affected by this unfortunate diagnosis. As your company's HR or benefits administrator, you and your workplace play a huge support role when they need it most. By offering accommodations to caregivers or employees with Alzheimer’s, when appropriate, you can ease any struggles or burdens that come with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is showing no signs of slowing down

According to the Alzheimer’s Association External Site, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 the number will likely increase to 14 million. And, since Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that sometimes doesn't show symptoms External Site for 20 years, it can often be too late for any kind of treatment.

In 2019 alone, Alzheimer’s and other dementia will cost the nation $290 billion, and by 2050, those costs could rise to $1.1 trillion. -The Alzheimer's Association

How can your workplace be accommodating to those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease?

Whether its an employee or their family member who've been diagnosed, these tips can help you be accommodating of someone dealing with this disease.

  1. Support when employees need it the most.

    Through this difficult time, make your workplace as comfortable and supportive as possible for employees to express their needs, concerns or frustrations. When you create a supporting and open environment, you can accurately accommodate each employee’s unique experiences.
  2. "I'm not sure anyone would describe care giving as a happy experience, it is in fact, a heartbreaking journey, yet I feel so lucky that I could do it for as long as I could." - said Mike McDowell, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield member. Read his full story Opens in a new window with care giving for his mother who suffered from dementia, and eventually Alzheimer's disease on BlueSM.

  3. Keep the workplace clutter free.

    According to a study done by the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation External Site, researchers found by reducing visual clutter, participants had improved memory and performance with everyday tasks. TIP: Add visual or verbal reminders to help employees with Alzheimer’s disease perform their very best at work.
  4. Evaluate employee working hours.

    Between varying appointments, treatments, and emotional trauma an Alzheimer’s diagnosis may bring, it’s important to know your employees may have to step away from the office. Having a conversation up-front with an employee about appropriate or flexible hours can help them feel supported and more engaged when in the office.
  5. Consider all-employee training.

    Provide information and training to employees about how to talk, support and help a fellow colleague dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. You can provide education about the varying symptoms, how to act in sensitive situations, and accommodations they can easily make to support a coworker. Consider this accommodation and compliance training guide External Site from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).
  6. Promote BeWell 24/7.

    Available to Wellmark members, this service can help your employees find a doctor, coordinate appointments, get treatment advice, seek a second opinion and even manage complex situations. Search “BeWell 24/7” on the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit for ready-to-share flyers, information and more.

At the end of the day, your employees are your company's most valuable investments. Their happiness, engagement, work-life balance and health is all critical to how your business moves forward. With any disease or illness, the most important part is offering support and resources when necessary.

Healthy business, healthy employees

As your company’s HR or benefits administrator, you have a natural knack for wanting to help and educate employees on how they can become savvy health care consumers. And, companies that offer Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, also offer their employees the tools and resources to help manage conditions, track claims and costs, compare quality, and find top centers for specialty care.

With myWellmark®, your confidence can be restored in your employees’ knowledge of their health insurance coverage, leaving you to answer fewer questions, calls and emails about health insurance information.

If they haven’t done so already, encourage your employees to register for myWellmark. Opens in a new window Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative or email us at blueatwork@wellmark.com Send Email.