Confidence to Care Book Discussion – Alzheimer’s Affect on the Sense of Smell

cta-book-largeYou’ve received your Confidence to Care book, have hopefully read the first couple chapters and may have some comments or questions. Well let’s hear them! Click here to jump to the bottom of this post and enter your comment.

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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.

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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.

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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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5 thoughts on “Confidence to Care Book Discussion – Alzheimer’s Affect on the Sense of Smell

  1. This is a fairly innocuous test but it might be confusing and difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. As an R.N., I do find some fault with it and as a former caregiver to my father who had dementia, I can say that he had excellent taste and smell senses up until his passing. He could still describe the subtle fragrances on the nose and flavors of a chardonnay.

  2. […] To request a free copy of the book, go to our Contact Us page, enter your information and, in the Comments section, provide your address and note that you’d like the Confidence to Care book. We’ll ship it to you for free! If you’d like to share about your experience with Alzheimer’s and the holidays or managing your loved one’s repetitive behaviors, join our book discussion. […]

  3. A pilot study by researchers at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center identified that the brain changes associated with meditation and subsequent stress reduction may play an important role in slowing the progression of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The results of the study were published online recently in Neuroscience Letters.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201311/meditation-may-slow-age-related-cognitive-decline?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=10445760

    Read how different types of meditation offer different brain benefits and let us know if you think this would help!

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