The relationship between apathy and participation in therapeutic activities in nursing home residents with dementia: Evidence for an association and directions for further research Academic Article uri icon


  • Apathy is one of the most frequent and early symptoms of dementia. Because apathy is characterised by lack of initiative and motivation, it leads to considerable burden being placed on carers to ensure that the person living with dementia has a reasonable quality of life. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between apathy and participation in therapeutic activities for older people with dementia living in nursing homes. Ninety residents were recruited into the study, and apathy was measured by nursing home staff using the Apathy Evaluation Scale Clinician version. Staff also compiled data on each resident's involvement in therapeutic activities. Among this sample, the mean age was 84.8 years, and mean length of stay in the nursing home was 1.8 years. The mean apathy score was 50.4, indicating that on average the residents had a moderate level of apathy. Overall, residents participated in six activities per week and those residents who were involved in the most activities had the lowest levels of apathy. This paper provides evidence that residents involved in therapeutic activities have lower levels of apathy. Further research should be conducted on the direction of causality, whether apathy levels can be changed through participation in therapeutic activities, the relationship between dementia severity and modifiability of apathy, and the intensity of therapeutic activities required to maintain functioning.

publication date

  • 2016