Clive Ballard

Many residents with dementia also exhibit apathy. When overlooked in care settings, the consequences can be grave, contend researchers from the University of Exeter.

The condition is not only common, but is often distinct from depression, requiring different care, reported researcher Clive Ballard, Ph.D., and colleagues in a presentation at this week’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles. However, because dementia residents with apathy may be quiet and non-disruptive, their problems may remain unnoticed.

Withdrawal from activities can accelerate cognitive decline and result in earlier death in people with dementia. But improved caregiver training, social interaction and personalized exercise programs have been shown to improve the condition, Ballard explained. “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.”

In other Alzheimer’s conference news:

  • Researchers have found that patients with dementia are at a significantly higher risk for generalized or partial seizures disorders, according to a Medscape report. 
  • Exercise slows not only cognitive decline but brain tissue loss over time, according to investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • University of Southern California researchers said it may be past time to move the focus from an Alzheimer’s cure and turn attention to prediction, diagnosis and prevention.