A new research study led by the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in LA has found that apathy is present nearly half of all people with dementia, with researchers finding it is often distinct from depression.

Although common, apathy is often ignored as it is less disruptive in settings such as care homes than symptoms like aggression. Defined by a loss of interest and emotions, it is extremely distressing for families and it is linked with more severe dementia and worse clinical symptoms.

[Apathy] can be overlooked because people with apathy seem less disruptive and less engaging... it can accelerate cognitive decline and we know that there are higher mortality rates in people with apathy. 
Miguel de Silva Vasconcelos, PhD student at the University of Exeter and King’s College London


Researchers found that a proportion had apathy without depression, which suggests that the symptom might have its own unique clinical and biological profile when compared to apathy with depression and depression only.

Our research shows just how common apathy is in people with dementia, and we now need to understand it better so we can find effective new treatments. 
Professor Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter Medical School

 

The presentation was entitled ‘The Course of Apathy in People with Dementia’.

 

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University of Exeter