Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Caring About Apathy

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.

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.


  • TeresaBaker-Carl
    2 years ago

    I believe apathy is a major problem for me which is growing after a period of feeling very strong and positive. I have no idea where to begin to address it. I’m in counseling, but it isn’t really helping me.

  • YahYah
    2 years ago

    It’s really difficult to remain interested in nearly anything that requires action on my part. I could just sleep nearly round the clock. I have been avoiding dear friends for quite some time. I don’t want to leave the house very often. I know I need to exercise but ………….. I worry about the meds I take and I worry about the meds I don’t take. Maybe I’m depressed but I don’t care. Does that sound like apathy? : (

  • Karl R moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Yah Yah, I understand what you are feeling. It could be apathy, maybe something called executive dysfunction (a side effect of PD where it becomes hard to prioritize, or possibly just getting used to the idea that you may have Parkinson’s. I want you to know that you are far from alone in this PD community and there are lots of us to help you. I hope that you try getting back with your friends and to enjoy being social. Start with just one thing like: calling friends, getting together with friends, going outside for a short walk or just enjoy the breeze, talking to your doctors (neurologist/movement disorder specialist/primary care) about what you are feeling, joining a support group nearby, or finding something like a funny movie to get you laughing again. I am NOT a doctor and I don’t give medical advice, in my 30+ years of having PD I can say that I have found great strength and help from friends, family, reiki, exercise, meditation, yoga, laughter, and staying positive. I sure hope that this helps and if I can answer more questions, I will try.! I thank Chris for his help, too! Karl Robb –Community Team Member

  • Chris H. moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi @yahyah – it seems as though you’ve taken the first step as @karl-robb has suggested: you’ve recognized that apathy may be a factor. Many folks here have found that in-person support groups to be very helpful. While one’s particular PD looks different from another’s, the camaraderie experienced could be beneficial! Here’s a link to help you find some resources in your area: Additionally, exercise can definitely be tough, especially if you’re left to your own devices to figure out a workout plan. Rock Steady Boxing is a non-contact boxing program that has been very talked about here. We have more information about it here: There are classes all of the country! I hope this helps. Glad to have you in this community! – Chris, Team Member

  • Poll