CNN reports on Drs. Bock and Yaffe's findings on apathy and risk of dementia

(CNN) Apathy, a decrease in motivation and goal-directed behavior, in older adults could lead to an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a new study.

Finding ways to treat apathy could be key in slowing neurodegeneration as we age, according to the study, published Wednesday by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, on Wednesday in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Apathy can be very distressing for a family member, when people no longer want to get together with family or friends or don't seem interested in what they used to enjoy," said Dr. Meredith Bock, a clinical fellow at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, in a news release.

Bock and her team concluded that those with severe levels of apathy were 80% more likely to develop dementia than those with low levels of apathy, after adjusting for age, education and other dementia risk factors.