The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now reports that 5.4 million, or one in nine people 65 years and older in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s. For researchers, one of the challenges has been to develop accurate tests for early detection, which can lead to better management of the disease.
Both CBS News and CNN recently reported on a couple of studies presented at the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto. CBS cites one of the studies that suggest a person’s eyes may be an early predictor of the disease. Researchers found that, “a thinning of the retinal nerve fiber layer in the eye tended to occur in people who performed more poorly in testing of cognitive skills like memory, reasoning and reaction time.”
Another group of researchers reported on an eye test for Alzheimer’s that involves detecting amyloid protein deposits in the retina. Researchers report that one of the outcomes of the study confirmed that, “Amyloid can be seen in the retinas of animals and people with Alzheimer’s.” They went on to add that, “the amyloid deposits were seen before cognitive impairment began, so they begin to appear in the retina early in the disease.”
The third study suggests that older adults who experienced a deteriorating ability to identify odors may be headed toward cognitive decline. In the study, seniors were presented with different scents to identify and rated on how well they identified the odors. While scientists do not believe that the noses of those who did poorly on the test are the problem, but rather that cognitive impairment is causing their brains to have a more difficult time identifying the smells.
All of these tests are still in the early stages and it is much too soon to know if they will actually come to anything. However, it is promising to hear about some of the research underway that may eventually help doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early-on.
MorningStar at Bear Creek is a memory care community that uses progressive methods to palliate symptoms and revive joy. Our foundation is built on honoring God, valuing our seniors and hiring staff with a felt calling to serve, and is devoted to creating a true home for residents within a serene setting. Please contact us to schedule a visit to experience firsthand our loving community.
Sources: cbsnews.com/news/nose-eyes-sense-of-smell-early-clues-alzheimers-disease-dementia/ & cnn.com/2016/07/26/health/alzheimers-eye-and-smell/