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Study Finds Apathy Associated With Increased Risk of Dementia

Apathy is a loss of interest in relation to social or emotional situations. It presents as a lack of feeling, interest or concern about a specific situation, or life in general. According to a new study, apathy in mature adults is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia.

Participants in the study included 2,018 adults with an average age of 74 who took part in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. None had dementia at the beginning of the study. The researchers used the Apathy Evaluation Scale to measure apathy at baseline. Participants were divided into three groups based on levels of apathy; low, moderate, or severe. Incidences of dementia were recorded over 9 years.

25% of participants in the severe apathy group developed dementia compared to 14% in the low apathy group and 19% in the moderate apathy group. After adjusting for factors that could affect dementia risk, the researchers found that participants in the severe apathy group had an 80% increased risk of developing dementia compared to participants in the low apathy group.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California San Francisco. It was published online ahead of print on October 14, 2020 in the journal Neurology.

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