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First topic – The peanut butter sniff test to confirm Alzheimer’s.
It says on page 3 of the Confidence to Care book that dementia impacts all five senses. Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste and the University of Florida, chose to focus on the sense of smell and came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity. She ran a small pilot study published in the Journal of Neurological Science. The patient closed his or her eyes and mouth and blocked one nostril. The clinician opened the peanut butter container and held a ruler next to the open nostril while the patient breathed normally. The clinician then moved the peanut butter up the ruler one centimeter at a time during the patient’s exhale until the person could detect an odor. The distance was recorded and the procedure repeated on the other nostril after a 90-second delay. Patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease had a dramatic difference in detecting odor between the left and right nostril—the left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 centimeters closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some are skeptical.
“The idea that smell is altered in Alzheimer’s disease dementia patients is well known, and this is nothing new,” neurologist David Knopman from the Mayo Clinic tells NPR. Knopman says this study is nothing more than an interesting observation. The study itself acknowledges that the findings aren’t fully verified. And the study sample of 94 patients (only 18 of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) is too small to be conclusive.
What do you think? Has Alzheimer’s affected your loved one’s sense of smell and would you have agreed to this test?
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