Care Environments Can Be Modified To Prevent Apathy Among Residents With Dementia

Older adults with dementia often experience apathy, but this symptom is commonly overlooked. Studies have shown that environment-based interventions have a positive influence on apathy. However, not much research has been done to explore influential environmental qualities. Researchers have pointed out that environmental factors have a significant influence on apathy.  Environmental factors such as institutionalization, which can lead to diminished incentive, reward, or control, can influence the development of apathy. Environmental factors are especially significant given that they are often easier to change than many internal factors related with aging and dementia.

A recent study explored the association between care environments and apathy in older adults with dementia under long-term care.  The study analyzed influential environmental features on apathy in dementia and found that the clarity and strength of environmental stimulation were critically associated with a lower level of apathy. The study’s findings suggest that care environments that provide clear and sufficient environmental stimulation are significantly related to lower levels of apathy among older adult residents. In other words, residents who live in an environment that provides stimulation that is clear, well-organized, and clearly guided, without overwhelming background sounds or competing stimuli are more likely to have lower levels of apathy. On the other hand, living in an environment with complicated and disruptive stimulation without one discernible stimulus will likely increase apathy levels among residents.