Set aside the blood tests, lab work and other involved tests, because testing for Alzheimer's could be as simple as sniffing a scoop of peanut butter.
Futurity, which reports research from top universities, says researchers at the University of Florida have studied the importance of smell in detecting Alzheimer's. Knowing that patients in cognitive decline often first lose their sense of smell, the researchers gave patients a dollop of peanut butter and had them smell with each nostril separately. They simply used a ruler to measure the distance at which people could smell the odor while keeping the other nostril closed.
The UF researchers say people with a confirmed diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer's could smell it fine with their right nostril, but not their left. Mostly, the right nostril smelled the peanut butter at 10cm before the left one. The left-right difference is specific to Alzheimer's, but doesn't apply to other forms of dementia.
The lead researcher says, "At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis. But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer's disease."
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.