Abstract

Objective: The study purpose was examination of risk factors for developing apathy in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Apathy is one of the most frequently occurring and troublesome neuropsychiatric symptoms endured by AD patients and their families. Yet, little is known about the profile of individuals at risk for developing apathy in AD. Method: A case-control design was used to examine age, gender, race, living environment, apolipoprotein E genotype, functional status, and executive functioning as risk factors for the onset of apathy in individuals with probable/possible AD. The sample was comprised of 865 participants ranging from 65 to 100 years of age (M = 78.2, SD = 6.54), of which 55.6% were women and 44.4% were men. Follow-up time was three annual visits. The sample was drawn from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database, the Uniform Data Set. Results: Using Cox regression analysis, older adults (HR = 1.29, p = .04, 95% CI = 1.01 – 1.65) were at 29% higher risk than younger adults. Males (HR = 1.32, p = .04, 95% CI = 1.02 – 1.72) were at 32% greater risk than females. Each point increase in functional impairment score increased risk by 4% (HR = 1.04, p = .001, 95% CI = 1.03 – 1.06). Conclusion(s): Older age, male gender, and greater functional impairment emerged as risk factors for apathy in AD. Risk factors may be useful for identifying high risk groups, leading to more effective management of apathy and increased quality of life for patients and their families.