90% of people with dementia suffer from apathy at some point. When they do, they decline faster and are harder to care for. A stimulating environment made all the difference in a revealing new study of 5 factors. Specifically, moderate stimulation did the most to lift people out of their apathy, while none or too much made it worse.
People with dementia are less likely to be apathetic if they live in an appropriately stimulating environment, according to nursing researchers.
According to a report by The Centers for Disease Control, about half the people in nursing homes have dementia. 90% of them experience a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, and concern at some point, one of the most common neurobehavioral symptoms in dementia. Those with mild dementia will decline more quickly into severe dementia if they also suffer from apathy.
How Can You Help Them Stay Engaged?
- Individuals with dementia who are also apathetic won’t be curious about the world around them;
- They are not motivated to carry out activity nor engage with those around them, in either a positive or a negative way.
- The individuals’ cognitive function will likely decline faster.
- Caregivers will have more difficulty with their caregiving and are more likely to become depressed.
5 Influences on Apathy in Dementia
Five key characteristics that affect the quality of life:
- Environmental stimulation
- Staff familiarity
- Light and sounds.
Of the five, clear and strong environmental stimulation associated most strongly with lower apathy in residents. This means an environment without competing background noise, and with a single straightforward stimulus. A good example is music therapy in a quiet room. A strong stimulus is intense, persistent, interesting and out of the ordinary. Even routine activities, such as a regular conversation or meal, count as moderate stimulation. A birthday party is considered strong simulation.
Strong Stimulation, No Stimulation, Overwhelming Stimulation
Results show that clear and strong environmental stimulation is related to lower apathy, while no stimulation or an overwhelming environment with no single clear stimulation is related to higher apathy.