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What is apathy in older adults and how can it be avoided?

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How can apathy be prevented in the elderly? In this article, we discuss this important topic, which is key to taking care of our mental well-being as we age.

Isolation, neglect of emotional ties, and a loss of interest in activities once loved. Apathy in older adults is a common problem that should not be ignored, as it can lead to deep depression.

According to the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (SEMFYC), up to 20% of all people over the age of 80 suffer from apathy. The reasons can be different and are all related to aging itself. But you know what? There are ways to prevent it.

What are the signs of apathy in older adults?

Loss of interest in the people around is the most obvious symptom of apathy in older adults. There is no longer a desire to spend time with one’s grandchildren, let alone friends. These meetings and time for togetherness are no longer appealing.

Failure to take care of oneself is another sign of apathy in older adults. In this case, we are referring to aspects of personal hygiene, nutrition, and how to dress. It’s as if nothing matters, as if you’ve stopped loving yourself.

Another sign of apathy in older adults is indifference. Indifference to a friend’s terminal illness or to social events in the news. This does not necessarily mean not caring about anything, but rather apathy, and this is a sign of possible depression .

How are apathy and old age related?

The fact that apathy affects 20% of all older adults is significant, as the phenomenon appears to be closely linked to old age. For example, Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to apathy, as can Parkinson’s disease. These diseases make people dependent on caregivers and reduce their quality of life .

If you have fallen and hit your head, this may also have changed certain brain structures. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to possible injuries and to the moods that appear afterward.

There are other factors that are also linked to loneliness. Children tend to start their own families, move away from their elders and never seem to have time to spend even a weekend with them. Many elderly people feel isolated and this causes a deep depression that manifests itself in apathy.

Diagnosis and treatment of apathy in the elderly

To diagnose apathy in older adults, one can take the following four factors into consideration:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Emotional changes
  • Effects on the person’s quality of life
  • Behavioral changes

If these factors persist for a month or more, it is a warning sign that something is wrong. Then it is necessary to contact the healthcare system.

When it comes to treatment, there are several options. These range from medications (antidepressants, dopamine stimulants, psychostimulants, psychotropics) to cognitive stimulation therapies with exercises that should be done daily.

Recommendations for preventing apathy in older adults

Now that you understand a little more about what causes and the symptoms that manifest regarding apathy in the elderly, let’s take a closer look at some recommendations to avoid it. Although it may not seem like it, there are ways to prevent it.

1. Encourage healthy social relationships

To prevent apathy in old age, one should encourage social relationships, as the symptoms of apathy can be related to loneliness. If you live far away from an elderly person with these symptoms, you should remember that it is important to take care of our elderly, to spend weekends with them, to visit them when we can, and to call them daily if necessary.

2. Participate in activities – alone and together

We can involve the elderly in many different activities, from playing chess to practicing yoga. This helps them stay active and feel better. Also, if we share these activities with them, it will be much more enriching.

3. Ask for advice and help

When you get to work together to, for example, prepare food, put something back in its place or build a piece of furniture, you feel valued. Sometimes we may avoid asking our elders for advice and help because they are not as quick as us, and this makes us nervous. But here it is important that we make an effort and make our elderly fellows feel useful and useful, which helps to prevent the onset of apathy.

4. Love and affection

All people need affection, and older people are even more so. They can feel very lonely, so any detail, like a hug or simply just holding hands, is crucial.

Prevent apathy before it occurs

Preventing apathy in the elderly is important, and with these tips, we want to tell you that it really is possible. That said, it goes without saying that degenerative diseases or other circumstances can be contributing factors, and in these cases, it is necessary to ask for information and support from a doctor .

But some things are in our hands, and that’s where we can do something. So think about communicating, inviting them to joint activities, and giving our elderly people the place they deserve.

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