Depression and Apathy

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Caregiver Training Part III: Depression and Apathy





Daughter explains that her mother has not been wanting to do any of the things she used to like to do. She is frustrated that her mother lays in bed all day and refuses to get up.



Common response: Mother is lying in bed during the day. Daughter asks her mother to get up but mother refuses. Daughter gives up and leaves the room discouraged.

Expert explanation: Depression and apathy occur in many persons with dementia. Apathy is different from depression. With apathy, a person may experience a lack of motivation, effort or energy to do everyday tasks, no longer have interest in talking with others or participating in activities, or show a lack of reaction to people or things that occur. People with depression may be sad or tearful, irritable, restless and have feelings of low self-worth. People with depression may also have sleep problems, loss of energy and appetite changes. See medical attention if the behavior is significant or if it is a sudden change from their usual self.

Recommended response: Mother is lying in bed during the day. Mother initially refuses to get up from bed. Daughter uses an incentive for mother to get out of bed by saying her friend is coming to visit. Mother is excited that she is having a visitor and gets out of bed. Mother goes to the living room and is enjoys working on a jigsaw puzzle with her friend.

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The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS330982 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. This project was funded, in part, by the Archstone Foundation.