Imagine peanut butter helping you or a loved one determine your risk for Alzheimer’s. It may seem far-fetched at first mention, however researchers at The University of Florida believe there could be a significant connection between the sense of smell and Alzheimer’s. The Mayo Clinic helped identify that one of the first indicators of cognitive decline, even before noticeable memory loss, is a failing sense of smell – and so the Alzheimer’s peanut butter test was created.
The Sniff Test: Can Smelling Peanut Butter Detect Alzheimer’s?
In the experiment, the researchers gathered 90 participants who ranged from having confirmed early stage Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, as well as a control group with no cognitive or neurological problems. The participants then took part in a “smell test.” They were each asked to smell a spoonful of peanut butter from a short distance.
The results found that those with a confirmed early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis had trouble smelling the peanut butter. Even further, that group had more difficulty when it came to smelling with the left nostril versus the right nostril, something unique to the disease.
Does the Sniff Test Actually Pass the Sniff Test with Experts?
It isn’t time to start self-diagnosing Alzheimer’s peanut butter links just yet. Other scientists have research that refutes these findings. Some question the validity of the study itself. The sample size was relatively small, with less than 100 people participating.
Additionally, researchers at the University of Florida noted that a variety of non-Alzheimer’s-related traumas can affect olfactory abilities. For instance, someone having difficulty smelling may have had a severe sinus infection at some point in their life, inhibiting their ability to complete the test accurately. So, while Alzheimer’s and sense of smell are related, there isn’t always a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
What Are the Signs of Alzheimer’s We Know for Certain?
While the link between Alzheimer’s, smell, and the peanut butter test is being developed in a meaningful way, there are more conclusive signs that could indicate a cognitive decline. Memory loss, especially with recently learned information is one sign, as is a decrease in judgement.
Other signs include difficulty completing familiar tasks or an inability to retrace steps and find missing objects. Problems defining time or place, understanding visual images, and suddenly stumbling with words while speaking are also indicators.
Finally, friends and family should take notice of a senior’s withdrawal from social activities and a change in personality — another Alzheimer’s related abnormality. A comprehensive list can be found at Alzehimhers.org along with a helpful chart that outlines the important differences between normal age related changes (for instance, forgetting which word to use) and dementia-related cognitive decline (difficulty having a conversation).
The research going into the discovery of early indicators of cognitive decline can ultimately help with the research into cures. Additionally, knowing the warning signs can mean earlier diagnosis by a doctor and subsequently a head start on treatment from facilities that offer Alzheimer’s and dementia support like Griswold Home Care. Memory care for the patient will be important in the early stages of the disease as it helps them retain meaningful activity and interpersonal connections.
What do you think of the Alzheimer’s peanut butter test? Do you think it may hold some validity, or have you heard of other research being done to more easily diagnose this disease. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.