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DW's Boss' Dementia
Old 05-04-2016, 10:56 AM   #1
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DW's Boss' Dementia

My DW and I are at a loss as to what to do. Long story short, her direct supervisor is exhibiting signs of dementia. Now, before you ask how I "know" this is happening, keep in mind that both DW and I have seen our fair share of decline due to dementia...so many of the signs are there.

Long story short, the boss is at the point that it is significantly affecting her performance. She cannot remember what occurred the day prior and employees are having to spend a significant amount of time bringing her back up to speed on "fires" that are burning. She needs help very often with computer tasks (such as locating emails or finding files) because she is unable to recall how to do these simple tasks. When she is NOT at work, things flow much smoother and the employees are able to actually get things done. When she *is* there, well, it's a mad house. It takes a lot of work to deal with her incompetence.

My DW works for a fairly large company that *might* be owned by a guy in Omaha. They have been acquiring smaller businesses and bringing them into the fold (it's a real estate buying/selling/leasing outfit) and thus there has been lots of changes in *who* the bosses are. My DW's boss is the managing broker for one of the division and also sits as a member of board of directors. She has been there a VERY LONG time...and she is in her 70's. Her direct boss is the CEO of the subsidiary and does not work in state. He has been to the office once. My wife has discussions with him on occasion, but they are definitely NOT on a first name basis. The senile boss is licensed as a broker in the state and thus has a fiduiciary duty to the thousands of clients that the company represents. Her department oversees about 800 clients...and SHE is the managing/directing broker.

My DW is at her wits end about this. The department has about 10 employees, all of which know of her condition and no one really knows what to do. I know talking to her about it would not go over well since most of the folks that I have known to be affected by dementia tend to deny it or make excuses. My Grandmother had it and all the way up to the end (when it was so bad as to have hallucinations and such) denied that she had ANY cognitive issues. My DW is concerned about her broker's license. Although she isn't the managing broker, she still she is at risk since she too has a fiduciary duty to watch out for the clients and it's quite probably that senile boss will make a error that could result in legal and or ethical issues being raised.

So...what would YOU do in this situation? My thoughts is that either the CEO needs to be made aware or the state licencing board needs to know. But so far the DW has been hesitant to want to even SUGGEST that to co-workers. A small fly in the ointment is that if and when DW's boss retires, my DW will then become the managing broker...so some of the co-workers might think she is trying to "get rid of her." Ugh.

I so wish she would retire with me....that would solve HER issue with this problem FOR GOOD!!!
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:04 AM   #2
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My gut says that the CEO needs to know, and if no action is taken, then notify the regulatory agency.
I work in a fiduciary business, and also worked for a man who exhibited many signs of dementia, all denied with vehemence. We did our best to work around him and were very relieved when his contract didn't get renewed and he parted ways with the company. Your wife surely has my sympathies.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:12 AM   #3
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Is there some sort of code of conduct that requires your wife to report that the boss is providing professional services to clients without diligence, skill or care?
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:12 AM   #4
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That's an unfortunate situation with no easy way out. I agree with Sarah in SC to alert the CEO and, if necessary, the regulatory agency.

If the supervisor is married, is there any way to notify her spouse?
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:13 AM   #5
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A "fairly large" company should have HR, and likely an ability to report with confidentiality, even an ombuds office - can she try those channels? If that doesn't work, then the CEO should be brought up to speed quickly.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:14 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sarah in SC View Post
My gut says that the CEO needs to know, and if no action is taken, then notify the regulatory agency.
I work in a fiduciary business, and also worked for a man who exhibited many signs of dementia, all denied with vehemence. We did our best to work around him and were very relieved when his contract didn't get renewed and he parted ways with the company. Your wife surely has my sympathies.
Thanks for the reply, Sarah. I thought this board would be a great place to ask about this since so many folks here *may* have seen similar issues. Many of the members were in higher positions to see that this might be a fairly common occurrence as sad as it is. I don't believe that she *has* to work. She actually lives just down the road from us and her husband has been retired for many years but appears to be able bodied as he is in the yard almost everyday doing something....but she's been doing it soooo long that I think she has become her job.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:16 AM   #7
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That's an unfortunate situation with no easy way out. I agree with Sarah in SC to alert the CEO and, if necessary, the regulatory agency.

If the supervisor is married, is there any way to notify her spouse?
I am going to guess that she's having issues at home as well, so I don't know how he wouldn't know. As for notifying him, I am not sure.

I think the DW is obligated to SAY SOMETHING...the ethical standards are pretty high, so I would guess that the disclosure would be required under some provision.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:45 AM   #8
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I am in the inform somebody camp...

I do like the option of informing HR first and see what happens...

If nothing, then elevate to CEO...

If nothing, the regulatory agency....


Just be prepared that your DW might also be gone... some bosses do not like employees who 'rat'... but, never stopped me...


I will say that my mom is getting pretty bad with her dementia.... but she knows it and will tell you... she remembers being in the ICU in the hospital and that caused a major decline in her memory...
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Old 05-04-2016, 01:05 PM   #9
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A "fairly large" company should have HR, and likely an ability to report with confidentiality, even an ombuds office - can she try those channels? If that doesn't work, then the CEO should be brought up to speed quickly.
^ This. Most definitely and with all due haste.
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Old 05-04-2016, 01:34 PM   #10
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Just be prepared that your DW might also be gone... some bosses do not like employees who 'rat'...
Keep the above ^^^ in mind also.
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Old 05-04-2016, 01:35 PM   #11
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There may be a company medical director there as well.
Some large companies still have them, along with other occupational medicine services.


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Old 05-04-2016, 01:49 PM   #12
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I would approach it through HR if it can be kept discreet.
I would also DOCUMENT everything. We found that having tangible examples helped in the guardianship issues with MIL. She was in full denial and fought the guardianship in court. But between the social worker, psychiatrist, doctor, and DH... there were enough documented examples it was not questioned that this was the appropriate step. Documenting will also help cover your wife's behind should things become confrontational.

Your wife's boss is the CEO? How often does the boss have to report to the CEO? If it's frequently, he's probably already noticed some issues/inconsistencies.
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:07 PM   #13
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I would also DOCUMENT everything. We found that having tangible examples helped in the guardianship issues with MIL.
Not only that, but as a CYA maneuver as well, especially if the documentation is written by many other people. This helps to negate the assertion that she's trying to "get rid" of the boss.

Agreed with the others that it needs to be reported to the company CEO if there is no HR department. Just be sure all the ducks are in a row before doing it.
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:27 PM   #14
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I do not know where her HR department is located. If local, it might be appropriate to express concerns there, so they can do an investigation and monitor the situation. Short of that, I do not have an especially favorable opinion of HR and if they are located at a different location or she has to deal with a fairly low level HR person, I would reach out to the CEO directly.
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Old 05-04-2016, 02:43 PM   #15
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As others have said, document. Have her go through past emails and other communications that show signs of the problems. It also helps if it gets reported by more than one source. See if any clients have had problems and are willing to talk.

Don't be surprised if it gets brushed off at one step up. We had a mental problem supervisor and when 2 of us reported it to his supervisor, it was not pursued. One more level up got wind of it before something was done.
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Old 05-04-2016, 03:31 PM   #16
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I agree with the others above who suggest the CEO needs to know, even more urgent and convincing if he/she hears from several direct reports. A good CEO should be able to readily confirm by simply following up on a list of issues daily for a few days over a few weeks. It should be very clear to the CEO that the manager has an issue based on DW and her co-workers observations.

If I was the CEO, I'd welcome a chance to act, before outsiders are brought in (regulatory). Only if the CEO refuses to act, then you have to consider the next step.

In my opinion your DW has to act, even better if several co-workers alert the CEO as compassionately as possible. Sad situation for all concerned.
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Old 05-04-2016, 03:34 PM   #17
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I recommend your DW suggest the boss seek appropriate medical attention. It may not be dementia. It may be treatable. Something like, "I've noticed you've been forgetting some things lately. Better ask your doctor about that." Or, "I have explained that three times this week already. Better pass this forgetfulness by your doctor very soon."
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Old 05-04-2016, 04:51 PM   #18
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You don't "know" that this is dementia. It does sound like there's a problem but until it's diagnosed you don't "know" what it is. Do you work at this office or is your wife telling you? If other employees are having to assist the "boss" then I don't see why other employees would think your wife is trying to get rid of her boss. If there's an HR department start there with documented proof from more than one source. If your wife is next in line to be the boss then she should know all this. A boss has to make tough decisions.
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:06 PM   #19
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splitwdw has a very valid point. It's really hard to prove, I'd report it on a confidential basis to HR. Then it's not my problem, only bad things can happen to the person that talks with the CEO about this.
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:12 PM   #20
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What I would do:

Document incidences where fiduciary duty is at risk, or clients get harmed. Escalate to next higher up (CEO) and share your concerns. Move fast. No CEO wants to be blindsided. No need to involve co-workers. That's the next step for verification, to be mandated by the CEO.

If there is a regulatory body you may be required to report these incidents actually. If that's the case inform the CEO and go to compliance/legal. Let them handle it.

I wouldn't bother with HR. And if clients aren't being demonstrably harmed I wouldn't do anything. Having an underperforming boss (regardless of cause) is an unfortunate fact of life. Shift divisions or move to another job.
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