According to the researchers, little research has examined apathy in people with Mild Cognitive Impairment – who are people with cognitive difficulties at high risk of developing dementia. In addition, very little research has assessed how apathy might change over time.
Approximately 2.5-7.5% of patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment in the community and 10-15% attending memory clinics develop dementia every year. With such a high incidence of dementia, significant attention has focused on identifying risk factors for progression. Apathy may predict such progression to dementia.
“In this study, we assessed both apathy and depression in people with mild cognitive impairment over a three-year period to be able to better distinguish the two symptoms,” says Dr Connors.
Their findings, in combination with other recent research they have done, suggest that apathy is a marker for poor clinical outcomes in older people and across different neurocognitive disorders. The research also indicates the need to distinguish apathy and depression, with depression appearing less closely tied to the progression to dementia.
Senior author and Co-Director of CHeBA, Professor Henry Brodaty, says that “there is a need to consider those with apathy to be at high risk of further cognitive decline and to plan for such contingencies.”