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Emotions may be blunted in Alzheimer’s patients

-Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

Kathleen Doheny from Health Day reports on the emotional withdrawing that can sometimes be found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study from the University of Florida found that, when reacting to positive and negative images, Alzheimer’s patients had much less emotional intensity than did healthy participants. According to the researchers, however, the participants with Alzheimer’s seemed to have a fairly good understanding of what they were being shown.

This is important for families and caregivers to pay attention to, because being emotionally withdrawn can often seem like a sign of depression, but could actually be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Gary Kennedy believes that this occurs because memory and emotion go together. “The more emotion you can attach to an event,” he says, “the more likely you are to remember.” Researchers who participated in this study urge family members not to get discouraged or angry when loved ones become apathetic, but to try to work with the elderly to help spark emotion. For example, being extremely descriptive while showing an old photograph to your loved one can help remind that senior of the emotions that go along with that photo.

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