How to Handle Difficult Behaviors
Apathetic; doesn't want to do anything
Lack of opportunity, changing skill level, depression, dementia
What to do:
Make sure your loved one has plenty of opportunities for social outings. It's easy to become a shut-in -- and therefore appear apathetic -- when you lack transportation, or when friends no longer call because they've moved, died, or are also suffering from health problems.
Also be aware that some older adults lose interest in former activities because they can no longer participate in them the same way. For example, an artist may not want to paint anymore if holding a brush is painful or the results aren't as satisfying. Modify activities according to ability, if you can, or introduce related hobbies or outings that are more manageable (visiting an art museum, helping kids with art).
If there are opportunities but your loved one doesn't want to partake -- ever -- be sure to look at possible underlying causes. Loss of initiative or interest in many things is a common early symptom of dementia, such as Alzheimer's. It's also a common sign of clinical depression. Treatment for these conditions can lift apathy.