Is Apathy an Early Signal of Dementia?

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay Information) — Older adults who aren’t or passionate about their typical actions might have a better threat of growing dementia, new analysis suggests.

The nine-year examine of greater than 2,000 older adults — common age 74 — discovered that folks with extreme apathy (an absence of curiosity or concern) had been 80% extra prone to develop dementia through the examine interval than these with low apathy.

“Apathy shouldn’t be delicate. It is one thing that households can decide up on. Extra analysis is required, however that is one other potential pink flag symptom of the prodromal (early) part of dementia,” mentioned the examine’s lead writer, Dr. Meredith Bock. She’s a scientific fellow in neurology on the College of California, San Francisco Institute for Neurosciences.

The prevalence of dementia (together with Alzheimer’s disease) is on the rise, and researchers are looking for new methods to determine who’s liable to the illness. Temper and conduct signs, equivalent to depression or irritability, are examples of adjustments which may be clues to an impending dementia prognosis.

Earlier research have additionally linked delicate cognitive impairment (a possible precursor to dementia) and apathy, however the researchers wished to have a look at a bunch of people that had no recognized reminiscence or pondering points but.

The present examine included folks aged 70 to 79. None had dementia at first. The researchers additionally had medical information, together with medicine use, hospitalizations and cognitive testing.

To judge apathy ranges, the examine members answered questions, equivalent to:

  • Up to now 4 weeks, how usually have you ever been excited by leaving your property and going out?
  • Up to now 4 weeks, how usually have you ever been excited by doing all of your typical actions?

After 9 years, the researchers discovered that 381 folks had developed dementia. Within the low apathy group, 14% developed dementia. For these with reasonable apathy ranges, that quantity was 19%. However one in 4 — 25% — within the extreme apathy group had dementia by the top of the examine.

When the researchers managed the info for age, training, coronary heart and blood vessel illness, despair and genetic threat of Alzheimer’s disease, they reported that folks with extreme apathy at first of the examine had 80% increased odds of getting dementia later in life.


Bock mentioned by asking about apathy, docs would possibly be capable to be taught which sufferers have a better threat of dementia. The data may very well be notably useful in analysis trials, she added.

Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement on the Alzheimer’s Affiliation, mentioned, “Such a analysis is crucial to assist us determine who’s in danger. We’re driving in direction of having the ability to determine folks with a better threat as quickly as attainable as we attempt for remedies that can be transformational for sufferers and their households. Nevertheless it’s too quickly to say if solely apathy can determine who’s liable to dementia.”

Edelmayer defined that it may be troublesome to tease out apathy from different adjustments which may be occurring, equivalent to despair or isolation.

She mentioned if in case you have considerations about your personal or a liked one’s reminiscence or conduct, you need to converse along with your physician or name the Alzheimer’s Affiliation’s 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

The examine findings had been revealed on-line Oct. 14 in Neurology.

WebMD Information from HealthDay

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