It turns out the key to detecting Alzheimer’s might have been sitting in your pantry all along. According to a new study, peanut butter may be a method to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Detecting Odors

Researchers at the University of Florida recently developed a test that involves individuals sniffing peanut butter in order to determine whether or not a person has early-stage Alzheimer’s. The test relies on the olfactory senses, or the sense of smell, one of the first abilities to diminish when cognitive decline begins to take effect.

The test was relatively simple in execution. Patients were seated with their eyes and mouth closed and one nostril blocked, breathing normally. The researcher conducting the study held a ruler next to the patient’s open nostril and moved a container of peanut butter up the ruler in increments of one centimeter during the patient’s exhale. Once the patient was able to smell the peanut butter, the distance on the ruler was recorded, and the process was repeated with the other nostril.

The results of the study were quite remarkable: patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease showed a significant inability to smell with their left nostril compared to their right. This was noticeably different from the results of patients with other types of dementia, which sparked more questions about the connection.

Future Implications long term care insurance

Jennifer Stamps, the graduate student who came up with the idea, explained that, “At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis,” Stamps says. “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.”

Though it sounds like a bizarre idea, the test’s strong point is that it is “quick and inexpensive”.  For those who are unable to afford the expensive testing often associated with mental decline and dementia, this method can provide a simple and cheap way to confirm their diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s and dementia place a massive financial burden on our nation as a whole. Besides the fact that Medicaid is the primary payer of long term care, family caregivers currently provide an estimated $216 billion in unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s every year. This huge monetary gap leaves a lot of room for improvement in terms of planning ahead for long term care.

Alzheimer’s and Long Term Care

More than 5 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and the number is expected to triple by 2050 due to the massive number of aging Baby Boomers. Preventative measures and early detection methods are at the top of the priority list for researchers, who have thus far been unable to find a cure for the disease.

Consistently following a healthy lifestyle is one of the strongest deterrents of the disease. Both exercise and proper nutrition have been shown to have substantial impacts of reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Striving to take care of your body throughout your life, especially in your middle aged years, will help you be healthier in your elderly years and avoid the chance of long term care.

Mental health problems have a strong link to Alzheimer’s, so addressing any health issues like depression or anxiety when they arise will seriously benefit your health in the future. Read more about the link between depression and Alzheimer’s or find out more about how to protect your health and your assets with long term care insurance.