Scientists are aware of several risk factors of dementia in humans while the most prevalent factor is older age. Other risk factors include smoking, drinking, and family history of the patients. Interestingly, researchers found that a lack of interest in surroundings can also lead to this disease later in life.
This study was published recently in the Neurology journal.
The team of researchers conducted the study to see the link of apathy with dementia. Most of the individuals with apathy do not have much interest in the surrounding world. Various signs show if a person has apathy that includes emotional inability, lack of interest in everyday activities, and low energy.
The researchers designed a questionnaire for the participants that determines apathy in individuals. The questions in the form also helped the participants determine if they have a mental health illness such as anxiety or depression or if they have apathy. The study included 2000 participants who answered the questions of the researchers.
The researchers formed three groups of participants labeled people with low, medium, and high apathy in them. Later, the research team also determined which participants developed dementia using their hospital records. The researchers also tracked the use of medication and their general thinking and memory.
The researchers collected data from the participants for over nine years. The findings show that 381 individuals from this study developed dementia. This included the individuals who showed extreme signs of apathy. This study confirms that apathy is a risk factor for dementia.
Dr. Sara Imarisio is the head researcher at Alzheimer’s Research UK. Dr. Imarisio said that apathy is not necessarily associated with depression. However, it is a risk factor for dementia. There are many patients who suffer from dementia but get a wrong diagnosis of depression. This usually happens when a person is in an early stage of dementia.
Appropriate knowledge of the symptoms of dementia can help in correct diagnosis of the condition. Since apathy is a less known symptom, there are increased chances of an incorrect diagnosis. Educating about such lesser-known symptoms can help in better diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
The researchers found the participants developed dementia through the help of their algorithm. They did not depend upon their medical reports or diagnosis through a hospital.
Dementia is a condition that affects the everyday life of a person and if it goes untreated it can lead to severe problems. It is important to look closely at the various risk factors of this disease and then determine the condition.
The researchers from this study suggest increasing research related to dementia so they can come up with better treatments. Only this can help make a real difference in the lives of the people living with dementia.
Even though apathy is a risk factor for dementia, it is not yet clear if it also leads to issues with memory or thinking ability. There are many symptoms of dementia and it can cause different conditions that are collectively termed as dementia.