Researchers have revealed a simple and affordable test that can detect a person's risk of developing dementia within a few years.
Dementia And Alzheimer's Disease
Dementia is a condition marked by a decline in memory and other thinking skills severe enough to reduce an individual's ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of this neurological problem accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer's is currently the sixth leading killer in the United States.
Decline In Sense Of Smell
University of Chicago researchers involved nearly 3,000 adults who were between 57 and 85 years old to find out if a decline in the sense of smell may help predict dementia diagnosis.
The researchers had the participants sniff different odors, which include those of fish, orange, peppermint, rose and leather. Within a five-year follow up period, 100 percent of those who could not physically detect at least one of the scents developed dementia. Of those who detected one or two scents, 80 percent were diagnosed of the disease.
"We show for the first time in a nationally representative sample that home-dwelling older adults with normal cognition and difficulty identifying odors face higher odds of being diagnosed with dementia 5 years later, independent of other significant risk factors," study researcher Jayant Pinto and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, on Sept. 25.
The Alzheimer's Association said that no single test can detect the neurological disease but researchers have been making strides in their studies. Research have so far offered several hints on the early warning signs of Alzheimer's.
Needing Extra Sleep At Night
In a study published in the journal Neurology in February 2017, researchers from Boston University found that individuals who see themselves needing extra sleep per night have nearly 2.5 times increased chances of developing dementia.
The researchers noted that the association is not causal but likely reflects the chemical changes that occur in the brain. It is also possible that the onset of dementia simply makes people feel more tired.
Other studies also found that speech problems, which may show with use of shorter sentences and fillers such as "um" and "ah," may also be an early sign of mental decline that may eventually lead to Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers have also found evidence suggesting that hearing loss may indicate mental decline.