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Do people become more apathetic as they grow older? A longitudinal study in healthy individuals

  • Henry Brodaty (a1) (a2) (a3), Annette Altendorf (a1) (a3), Adrienne Withall (a1) (a2) (a3) and Perminder Sachdev (a1) (a2) (a4)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 December 2009

Background: The aim of this study was to determine levels, rates and progression of apathy in healthy older persons and to investigate factors associated with its progression.

Methods: Seventy-six healthy elderly subjects, aged 58–85 years (mean 69.9), who were recruited by general advertisement and through local community groups, participated as a control group for a longitudinal study of stroke patients. Data were collected on demographic, psychological, neuropsychological and neuroimaging (MRI) variables and apathy was rated by informants on the Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES).

Results: Apathy scores and rates increased over 5 years, especially in men. Change of apathy was associated with informant ratings of cognitive decline in the years prior to baseline assessment but not to subsequent neuropsychological, neuroimaging or functional changes.

Conclusions: Apathy increases with age in otherwise healthy community-dwelling individuals, particularly in men.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: Professor Henry Brodaty, Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry, The Euroa Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Avoca St, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia. Phone: +61 2 9382 3759; Fax: +61 2 9382 3762. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
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