Dear Abby: Alzheimer's and other dementias are a growing epidemic in America. Frequently, co-workers are the ones who notice a decline in functioning.
Could you please remind your readers to speak up to a family member when they see their co-workers struggling? My 62-year-old husband was recently diagnosed, and I have since learned that his co-workers spotted his troubles long before I did at home. Had I been informed, he could possibly have retired on disability and have Medicare today (which he does not now). Additionally, he would have known to have structured his retirement to include survivorship on his pension, which he did not.
I realize his co-workers were in a difficult spot, so I'm not blaming them, but I'm hoping a few words from you might get the word out to others: Friends, when you notice someone is declining, please speak up. – Donna in Virginia
Dear Donna: I'm sorry about your husband's diagnosis. Although there have been warnings that it was coming for years, the Alzheimer's epidemic is here now and millions more families will be touched by this progressive – and ultimately fatal – disease unless its course can be altered.
As you have so poignantly stated, there are benefits to the early detection of Alzheimer's, including the opportunity to take advantage of available treatments, leverage resources in the workplace, plan for the future and seek help.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, knowing the warning signs of Alzheimer's and speaking up when you notice them are CRITICAL to early detection and receiving the best possible care. While this may be an uncomfortable conversation, if you notice these signs in anyone – including a colleague – it is extremely important to share your concerns with the family or with someone in human resources. The person should be evaluated by a physician. A doctor will be able to determine whether the symptoms are caused by Alzheimer's disease or something else.
To learn the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's, visit alz.org/10signs or call 800-272-3900.
Dear Abby: Twenty years ago, my brother told me his wife had been having an affair. Needless to say, they divorced and I sided with my brother.
A few days ago, I learned that my brother was actually the one who had been having the affair, not my sister-in-law. He and his current wife had a child they claimed was her first husband's, and when they married he "adopted" all of her children from her first marriage.
Because we lived in different states at the time it was easy to believe what I was told. I think that my ex-sister-in-law deserves an apology from us all. At the same time, I want to confront my brother about the lie. We are still not sure if the child, who is now an adult, knows my brother is really her biological father. – Lied To in California
Dear Lied To: I don't think it is ever too late to offer an apology where one is needed, so contact your former sister-in-law and tell her that you now know the truth and you are sorry. Because you feel the need to speak your mind to your brother, do so.
HOWEVER, whether your niece knows that your brother is her biological father is not your business, and you certainly should not be the person to enlighten her if she doesn't know. That news should come from her parents.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.