Lack of interest and a decrease in expressed emotion are leading symptoms in people experiencing apathy. In the elderly, apathy is often associated with dementia or depression. However, recent studies have shown that brain shrinkage, or the reduction in brain matter, plays a role in apathy as well.
Brain shrinkage happens as we age. Gray matter, the information-processing components, and white matter, the connection between these components, both deteriorate over time. Although the study was uncertain which happens first, the results are the same: apathy increases as brain matter decreases.
Apathy is fairly easy to spot, especially in close family members. Your aging loved one may no longer engage in prior hobbies and activities. Interests and passions once enjoyed may now produce indifference. Friends and family members they once delighted in seeing may now seem little more than acquaintances. Generally speaking, your loved one may no longer delight in life’s pleasures like they once did.
At present, there doesn’t appear to be any means to prevent the degeneration of brain matter. However, other studies have shown that apathy can be interrupted, especially by those whom the senior knows and trusts such as a live-in Warren caregiver or adult child. Initiate discussion on topics of interest, ask questions, encourage your loved one to recall and discuss prior passions, take them for walks outdoors. If they used to fish, take them fishing. If a former baker, make a batch of cookies. Play a game of cards. Simply be with your loved one and actively engage them in conversation. Not only is it beneficial for them, but for you as well. Time together is always time well spent.
However, if you don’t have the amount of time to ensure that your aging loved one is constantly being taken care of, a 24/7 or hourly caregiver from Warren Home Care Assistance can help. Call 908.450.9400 to ask about our senior care services and to schedule a free in-home consultation.