Tag Archives: donald sterling

How should we deal with the unfiltered versions of our loved ones?

I wrote previously about the rumors that the least favorite man in professional sports, Clippers owner Donald Sterling, had Alzheimer’s. It appears that those rumors have been confirmed. USA Today reports that Sterling exhibited symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease after undergoing an extensive neurological examination.

man speaking outline

On the one hand, this development places Alzheimer’s disease in the national spotlight, where it belongs. Unfortunately, because the disease is now associated with a man that so many find morally reprehensible, there is bound to be some backlash.

As I followed the news on Twitter, I found many people who found the Alzheimer’s diagnosis all too convenient, a way to look for sympathy from a public that was left aghast by his vehemently racist remarks that were secretly recorded by his much younger girlfriend. Others simply equated Alzheimer’s with crazy, saying “duh” of course Sterling is a crazy old man.

I hope in the days and weeks to come, as this dirty sports saga plays out in the American media, we can have an honest conversation about Alzheimer’s and behavior. This case raises many interesting questions for me. First of all, I think many of have experienced how those with Alzheimer’s lose their conversational filters, saying whatever comes to mind, whether it is offensive or just strange. Some begin to use profanity when they never did before. Generally I think those of us in the Alzheimer’s and dementia communities understand that this is the disease talking, and those afflicted should not be held responsible for their harsh words. For physically abusive actions, we can try behavior modification techniques and medications.

But the Sterling case is a bit different. There are numerous reports that Sterling had been a virulent racist his entire life, despite winning awards from the NAACP. Has the disease just erased his filter? Should the Sterling family be forced to sell the team for what a mentally ill man said, when he was allowed to be an NBA owner all of this time, even with his racist views?

I’m not raising these questions to defend Sterling; certainly he is a very wealthy man who can afford the best of lawyers and doctors to serve his best interest. But it is interesting to debate how much we should hold those with Alzheimer’s and dementia accountable for their words and actions.

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What about dementia in the workplace?

This week, there has been much talk about the Donald Sterling interview on CNN. The Clippers owner continues to make outrageous statements and accusations. It is easy to dismiss him as a crazy, racist old man who has not embraced modern civilization.

office blurry

But then his wife, in another interview, stated that she thinks Sterling has dementia. Now, the wife is desperately trying to retain her stake in the team, so she may just be doing damage control and trying to drum up sympathy. Still, it raised an interesting question for me.

What do we do about dementia in the workplace?

I wrote an article asking the same question on LinkedIn. I am curious to know what laws or regulations exist in the area you live in, or if the company you work for addresses the topic of dementia in any way. Dementia isn’t a new disease, obviously, but my guess is that in past generations, older people who started having difficulties on the job were just encouraged to retire sooner. Most probably did. But in today’s economy, retirement isn’t an option for many older people, or at best, they delay their retirement by several years. There is also the growing number of early-onset Alzheimer’s cases to contend with, so those in their career prime, in their late 30’s and 40s, could also have to tackle this issue.

I’d also like to know what policies you think should be put in place to deal with this sensitive issue. I’m trying to gather perspective from both sides, from the more business-focused people on LinkedIn, to the dementia awareness advocates that I follow here on WordPress.

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