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Sniffing Out Alzheimer’s Disease

A condition that affects more than 4.5 million American per year, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of memory loss among those 60 and older. A recent study suggests that a person’s sense of smell could help predict the early stages of the disease. Through a sample size of 1,430 men and women, researchers at the Mayo Clinic Research Center determined earlier this year that participants with the worst sense of smell were more likely to have memory loss.

In a similar 2014 experiment, scientists at the University of Florida surveyed over 90 participants, asking them to smell a tablespoon of peanut butter. Some participants had confirmed early stages of Alzheimer’s, while others had no cognitive or neurological problems prior to the analysis.

While these types of tests are promising advances, they aren’t accepted by all in the medical community. It may prove, however, to be a promising piece of the Alzheimer’s puzzle in the near future. Here’s what you can do to identify the early warning signs:

  • Trouble with Recollection: Losing track of important dates, names, and events could preclude an early onset of the disease.
  • Loss of Vision: Those in the early stages may find it harder to read or focus. Colors can be difficult to tell apart, and distance may be hard to judge.
  • Finding More Frustration: Comprehension of words may become more difficult, and those with the illness may have trouble identifying people, places, and things.

Are you a caregiver of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease? Many communities have programs to assist people with the disease in a number of different ways. The local Area Agency on Aging can connect you to Meals on Wheels, transportation services to help get to doctors’ appointments, support groups for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, and other home care programs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of resources available to those who may be caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s.

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