It is estimated that more than 44,4-million people worldwide have dementia. This number will increase to an estimated 75,6-million in 2030, and 135,5-million in 2050. Already 62% of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71%.
According to South Africa’s 2011 census, there are about 2,2-million people in South Africa with some form of dementia. In America, an estimated 5,2-million people had Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, and about 500 000 seniors die each year because of it.
It is important to keep these figures in mind because the more people know about an issue, the more they can do about it.
Researchers at the University of Florida in the US have found a quick and inexpensive way to diagnose this disease at an early stage using the ‘Peanut Butter Test’. In their study, a ruler was placed alongside the participant’s face and a container of peanut butter was held lower down the ruler.
The participant was asked to close both eyes and one nostril at a time. They were then told to say when they could smell the peanut butter, while the researcher raised the container up the ruler closer and closer to their face. All the participants who took part in this test either have mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
The research found that participants with the disease had a harder time smelling the peanut butter from the left nostril than the right one. Individuals with Alzheimer’s can lose their sense of smell long before any memory impairment occurs. Detecting this disease early can help doctors prescribe medication to patients, which may help slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s.
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