COVID-19 Induced Apathy: Is That a Thing?

By Sharon Krischer

Originally published by ParkinsonsDisease.net on October 13, 2020

How many weeks has it been now? Months? I have totally lost track. It must be at least 6 months or more.

At first, it was strangely energizing. We had all this time to get caught up on the things we needed to do and the things we wanted to do. And now what? We are making up things to do. There is no motivation to get dressed unless you are leaving the house, which happens only a few times a week, if at all. And even then, yoga pants will work just about anywhere except the golf course.

Apathetic elderly Latina woman swipes screens featuring virtual screens of yoga, wedding, and baseball game cardboard cutouts away from her
from ParkinsonsDisease.net

What should we do today? Nothing?

This morning, Mr. Twitchy and I looked at each other and asked what we had to do today. With a collective sigh, we both said “nothing” in unison. We decided to ride our bikes to see our grandchildren and surprise their parents. It is a short ride, just 2 1/2 miles each way. We were home by 9:00am and have been staring at each other ever since.

Read the rest of the article here

An interesting study about COVID-19 and Social Isolation

Social isolation often leads to apathy. The authors talk about the effects of isolation related to COVID-19 on People with Parkinson’s.

Synergy of pandemics-social isolation is associated with worsened Parkinson severity and quality of life

October 8, 2020 in Nature by Indu Subramanian, Joshua Farahnik & Laurie K. Mischley 

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Social isolation and its deleterious effects on health increases with age in the general population. People with Parkinson’s Disease (PWP) are no exception. Social isolation is a risk factor for worsened health outcomes and increased mortality. Symptoms such as depression and sleep dysfunction are adversely affected by loneliness. There is a paucity of research on social isolation in Parkinson’s disease (PD), which is all the more critical now in the setting of social distancing due to COVID-19. The goal of this study was to survey individuals with PD to evaluate whether social isolation is associated with PD symptom severity and quality of life. Read the rest of the study in Nature

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What Keeps Me Motivated While Living with Parkinson’s?

Parkinsonsdisease.net

By Sharon Krischer, published by Parkinsonsdisease.net on February 7, 2020

“You can keep going long after you think you can’t.”
– Heidi Reynolds, Founder Start Living Today PD

I am often asked how I can keep a good attitude and stay motivated while living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) for the past 11+ years.

We know that apathy is one of the many non-motor symptoms of PD, and yes, we are all affected by it at some time. I will be the first to admit that there are many days when I would rather stay at home and do nothing.

Click here to read the rest of the blog

Dear Readers, I occasionally submit blog posts to other sites such as Parkinsonsdisease.net, which published this post several weeks ago. Explore the site and you will find a lot of really good information about living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Sharon Krischer, Twitchy Woman

How to beat the “Meh’s”

I received an email a few days ago from a woman with Parkinson’s who is concerned about a decline in wanting to socialize.  She feels that her personality has changed and she is finding it difficult to explain how she feels to family and friends.  She points out that she is doing well, having had DBS in 2011 and exercising 3-5 times a week. But there is still that nagging feeling….

Probably all of us can identify with this woman.  At one time or another, to one extent or another, we have felt the need to withdraw from social situations, have lacked the energy to get out and get moving or have just found we are  . . . . apathetic, which is one of the hallmarks of PD.  If these experiences have been fleeting and short term, that is one thing (everybody has them to some extent).  But if they are persistent or long term, it is important that you reach out for professional help.

Some of this is understandably due to the symptoms we experience.  Some Parkies withdraw because they get easily overwhelmed by social situations. Others say that they just need some time alone — because they just do.  For others, speech problems, diskinesias or other physical manifestations of PD can make it difficult to socialize.

On the question of causation, Bev Ribaudo (Yuma Bev) just contributed a blog post on Apathy to the Michael J Fox website that is very informative.

She defines Apathy as:
1. Lack of passion, emotion, excitement
2. Lack of interest, a state of indifference
3. Lack of motivation

She goes on to explain how the changes in the brain of a person with PD can cause apathy.  It is a short article and I recommend that you check it out if apathy is one of your symptoms.

On the question of what to do to combat the the “Mehs”, there are some experiential lessons that have helped me and others I have talked to:  ZEDHX6k

  1.  Learn something new.  Learn a new language, take music lessons, find a new hobby that requires learning something different.   In the process, you may increase your dopamine levels and feel better.
  2. If large social gatherings are intimidating, spend more time interacting with people in small groups.  Having lunch or dinner out with just a couple of family members or friends may just be the boost you need.
  3. Create realistic goals for yourself, with rewards for achieving those goals.  Learn a new piano piece or read a book on a new subject,and get yourself a new pair of shoes, a hot fudge sundae or whatever else may motivate you.
  4. Join an exercise class with other people with Parkinson’s.  The camaraderie that ensues will give you a boost.  And you don’t need to explain how you are feeling because everyone else in the class understands.
  5. Volunteer.  They say that people who volunteer feel better and live longer.  Even if you have limited mobility, there is always something you can do.
  6. Get dressed in the morning and get moving, even if it is difficult.  You will feel better if you look better.  Lying around in your pj’s all day just encourages you to do nothing and reinforces the blah’s.
  7. Don’t write off your friends and family because you think they won’t understand.  Most of them do and are more than happy to help you whenever necessary.  As one doctor said to me when I mentioned my friends would not let me quit playing tennis no matter how frustrated I was with how I was playing,  “keep those friends!”
  8. Finally:  Look in the mirror and SMILE  You will be amazed at how much better it makes you feel.

None of these suggestions is a “cure” for apathy, but you might find some helpful for you.

We all have our down times, and we will have more in the future.  It’s ok and maybe even unavoidable to to give in to the “mehs” for a short time every once in a while.  Just don’t let it last too long.  We all have too much to do to let apathy get in the way.