DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker is constantly leaving or misplacing her keys at home or at work. Moreover, it seems like these incidents are happening on a more frequent basis, and I feel like something bigger has her mind preoccupied. I would like to know if I could help her in any way. Do you think it is my place to ask her if she would like to talk? -- Concerned Co-worker, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
DEAR CONCERNED CO-WORKER: Thinking about how close you and your co-worker are will help you gauge whether she will hear you. It is worth a try. During a private moment, ask her if she is OK. Point out that you have noticed she's experienced some forgetfulness of late, and you want to see if you can be of support to her. Sometimes when people's behavior is reflected back to them, they notice it more. Your bringing this up may do just that.
Beyond a gentle inquiry, there really is little else for you to do. Sadly, increasing forgetfulness is one sign of dementia and even Alzheimer's disease, but it would be inappropriate and jarring for you to say that to her. Only if she brings it up can you begin such a conversation. Otherwise, just support her as you can.