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Aging in the workplace

With so many senior citizens projected to remain in the workplace, many will experience memory loss

Posted: May 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 19, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Rachelle Dardeau, Executive Director of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center speaks at the SCV Mayor's Committee for the Employment of Individuals with Disabilities at the Activities Center on Thursday.

Senior citizens are working at a higher rate than ever before, staying employed past retirement age and keeping active throughout their golden years.

But with so many baby boomers projected to remain in the workforce past their Social Security benefits, some of them will experience obstacles related to memory loss.

According to Rachelle Dardeau, Executive Director of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, seniors will experience periodical forgetfulness, process information slower and occasionally find words difficult to understand.

“Your ability to handle stress decreases,” said Dardeau at Thursday’s SCV Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities luncheon. “It might take longer to process new information, but your memory relatively stays the same.”

“It’s important for employers and employees to know the basics of aging and memory loss in the workforce so we could be patient and understanding to our fellow seniors,” Dardeau continued.

A certain amount of forgetfulness is part of the normal aging process, said Dardeau. But many employers fear that a growing number of such lapses are signs of Alzheimer’s.

“There are important differences between simple forgetfulness and dementia,” said Dardeau. “It’s normal to forget where you put your keys or forgetting what you ate for breakfast the day before. It’s not normal to forget how to use the keys or forgetting what you ate fifteen minutes ago.”

While forgetfulness means it’s harder to recall information or events, Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain resulting in memory loss and behavior changes.

“If you start noticing behavioral problems or suspect your employees or colleagues may suffer a form of dementia, talk to them about it right away,” said Susan Chapman Howland, Director of Education at the Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter. “Plan out the conversation ahead of time and chose your words wisely so the other person doesn’t feel fearful.”

“Ask them to consult with their primary physician and get brain wellness screening for a thorough evaluation.”



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