Treating apathy in Alzheimer's disease

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2004;17(1-2):91-9. doi: 10.1159/000074280. Epub 2003 Oct 15.


Apathy, a syndrome of decreased initiation and motivation, affects over 70% of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom reported in AD patients. The syndrome of apathy is associated with functional impairment among patients and elevated stress among their caregivers. Apathy is one of the primary neuropsychiatric manifestations of frontal system dysfunction, and AD-related apathy is thought to reflect the interaction between cholinergic deficiency and neuropathological changes in frontal brain regions. This article reviews the assessment and treatment of apathy in AD, with emphasis on the utility of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for reducing apathy in AD. The potential benefits of other pharmacologic agents and combined pharmacologic-behavioral interventions are also discussed, and recommendations for future research are provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Motivation*
  • Social Behavior


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors