Apathy Highlighted as FTD Symptom in U.S. News & World Report Article


U.S. News & World Report published an article on September 7 highlighting apathy as a symptom of and warning sign for FTD and other forms of dementia, often developing months or years before a diagnosis is made.

The article highlights new research conducted in the Netherlands and published in JAMA Psychiatry in July. The study shows that approximately 20% of persons visiting memory clinics experienced apathy, which correlated with an increased risk for dementia when compared with patients not displaying apathetic behavior.

Apathetic behavior in individuals with dementia can take many forms, ranging from indifference towards activities of daily living to “motoric apathy,” in which individuals are reluctant to exert themselves or even get out of bed, the article notes. Emotional apathy, described as a lessening of empathy or an inability to process the feelings of others, is also common.

The article features the story of Ed Fargusson, an AFTD-affiliated support group leader and care partner for his wife, Anne. Ed describes his wife as a “superwoman”: an attentive mother to their children, a regular churchgoer and a dedicated nurse specializing in wound care.

He sensed a change in Anne’s behavior when her professional and personal standards began slipping – she lost interest in caring for her teenage sons and began ignoring sterilization protocols at work. After a series of false starts, Anne was diagnosed with FTD at age 48; the Fargussons have been living with the condition for 13 years.

For more information about apathy and FTD, including ways to manage this symptom, download the Winter 2018 edition of Partners in FTD Care, which focuses on the topic.

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