The Latest Methods in Detecting Alzheimer's Early

Carol Bradley Bursack Aug 1st, 2014 (updated May 29th, 2015)
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Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and for now treatment is more about providing loving care than medical intervention. Early knowledge will give you ample time to complete essential legal work. It will also allow precious quality time to spend with friends and family as you plan your future care, mend relationships and express your love and gratitude. Not all of these tests are on the market yet, but they should be reasonably accessible to most people before long.

 

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The smell test
The smell test

A year ago, a UF grad student used peanut butter to test sense of smell in elderly people and found that problems smelling peanut butter with the left nostril signified potential Alzheimer’s disease. More recent research found that study participants who had elevated levels of amyloid in their brain (one sign of possible AD), there was evidence of greater brain cell death and diminished ability to smell.

 

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The eye teset
The eye teset

An eye exam is an early diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s since proteins called beta amyloids are visible in the retina of a people with the disease. An Australian researcher has made viewing these proteins in the retina easier to detect by using curcumin, a spice used in curry. Curcumin sticks to beta amyloids, allowing doctors to spot the proteins simply by examining the eye. 

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The blood test
The blood test

Researchers have developed a new blood test that can predict with 90% accuracy whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer's or cognitive decline within three years. The test identifies 10 biomarkers that the researchers say, in combination, can predict a person's risk for AD. 

 

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The takeaway
The takeaway

While there is no prevention or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, most physicians still feel it’s helpful to know if you are at risk. The earlier Alzheimer’s can be detected, the more likely it is that interventions such as lifestyle changes and medications can stave off symptoms for a time and preserve quality of life.