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Apathy

We all feel our moods change from time to time.

People with dementia, however, can experience an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life. They may become depressed or withdrawn and lose interest in activities they used to enjoy.

This section gives possible explanations for these changes and suggests possible responses to the behaviour.

What is apathy?

Apathy is a word that describes loss of interest, motivation and/or persistence. It means not caring and not being social with others. The person with dementia may develop this apathy (become apathetic) and feel unmotivated to do anything. Apathy can be a symptom of depression but it can also occur separately from depression.

It can be distressing for a caregiver or family member to see the person with dementia withdrawing from social gatherings and other activities. Understanding the causes of apathy and how to respond to it can be helpful.

Possible causes of apathy

Responding to apathy