Scientists have discovered a new risk factor for developing dementia. It turned out that it is associated with apathy, a loss of interest in the world around him. New research published in Neurology
The researchers wanted to find out if there is a link between apathy and the likelihood of developing dementia. The study involved more than 2 thousand elderly people who completed questionnaires to diagnose apathy. In this state, people lose interest in the world around them, stop doing ordinary things, their emotions dull, they become lethargic.
Participants were divided into groups according to the degree of apathy (mild, moderate and severe). They were monitored for nine years. During this time, 381 of them developed dementia.
Mild apathy was associated with a 14% risk of developing dementia. In people with severe apathy, this risk was significantly higher, at 25%.
In addition, the higher the degree of apathy, the worse the memory and slower thinking were. However, during the study, these indicators have not changed.
The authors of the study emphasize that apathy is not always a sign of depression.
“Many people with dementia are often misdiagnosed as depressed. This often happens in the early stages of dementia, ”said Dr. Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK.
The authors point out that it is still unknown whether apathy contributes to the development of dementia or, on the contrary, apathy is simply a very early sign of dementia.