Caring About Apathy

Apathy is more than a basic indifference or inability to make a clear and decisive decision. Merriam-Webster defines apathy as a lack of feeling or emotion or a lack of interest or concern. For many of us facing Parkinson’s disease, apathy can be halting and even crippling to moving plans forward. Apathy can be perceived as an “I don’t really care” attitude. It’s just one of the many non-movement symptoms of Parkinson’s that needs recognizing and addressing.

Identifying apathy

Apathy is one of the many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that needs more discussion and far greater explanation for everyone. Apathy isn’t one of those obvious tags of the illness but is a more subtle symptom that only those close to those with the symptom may recognize. Sadly, what might be mistaken as indifference, even from those who are closest to us, can be misread as someone who is difficult, obstinate, inflexible, or critical. Identifying apathy and distinguishing it from moodiness, fatigue, or other conditions requires professional help. When someone appears ambivalent or non-committal they might seem to lack confidence or may seem unprofessional, when this is most definitely not the case. Apathy can influence motivation to get up out of bed, to decide to exercise or stay on the couch, or to get out of the house or not.

If apathy reduces your exercise or keeps you from seeing friends and interferes with other social engagements, you need to identify the situation before it goes too far. If apathy is not dealt with and identified, this condition can tax relationships and can even jeopardize marriages. Improving communication and motivation will require working closely with your neurologist.

Taking the first step

The first move to getting out of the doldrums of apathy is to recognize that it may be a factor. Delineating what you want and how to achieve the goal at hand is a great place to start. Lack of confidence in our decisions can often mean deferring those decisions to our care partner or family member, thus relinquishing even more control. My best suggestion is to get professional medical opinions and work together on a plan to address apathy. Recognizing and acknowledging that you need help may take time.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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