A New Sign of Possible Dementia

Researchers have discovered that a poor sense of smell might be a sign of upcoming dementia.

The earlier dementia is diagnosed in a person, the better.

Early diagnosis allows professionals to develop treatment plans that will slow dementia’s progress. It also lets people who have the disease to make end of life plans, such as advanced medical directives and estate plans, before they become unable to do so.

However, diagnosing dementia at the early stages is not always easy. This is because many of the signs of dementia are common in everyone as they get old. For example, people often start forgetting things as they age, but that does not necessarily mean they will all get dementia.

Researchers have now discovered a new sign of possible upcoming dementia, as The New York Times reports in “Poor Sense of Smell May Signal Dementia.”

In a study of women, subjects were asked to identify five distinct smells, including leather, fish and roses. How they performed at identifying the smells was found to correlate with whether they later got dementia.

That does not mean that everyone with a poor sense of smell will get dementia.

What it means is that smell is a cognitive function. Therefore, when a person begins to lose their sense of smell, it indicates declining cognitive functions and the possibility of very early dementia.

How this research can be applied in the field is not certain.

It is another useful piece of data for scientists, as they attempt to better understand dementia and how to detect it early.

Reference: New York Times (Oct. 3, 2017) “Poor Sense of Smell May Signal Dementia.”

Clinic Sued for False Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

A now closed clinic in Ohio is being sued by former patients for falsely telling patients they had Alzheimer’s disease and treating them for the disease they did not have.

When people get older they naturally begin to get a bit more absent-minded. They sometimes forget little things such as where they left their keys more often than they previously did.

Many people fear the worst. They fear that their forgetfulness is a sign that they are coming down with Alzheimer’s disease.

While no one wants to be diagnosed with the disease, it can come as something of a relief to get properly diagnosed so that people know what is wrong with them.

However, what if you were told you had Alzheimer’s and really did not? That is what many former patients of an Ohio clinic, that is now closed, allege in lawsuits.

The clinic told them they had the disease and accepted their payments for treatment. It was later revealed that these diagnoses were false and it appears that the clinic’s director did not have a license to practice medicine in Ohio.

FOX News reported this story in “Clinic falsely told dozens they had Alzheimer’s, suits say.”

If these allegations turn out to be true, this is a brazen and disturbing case of elder abuse. One of the people affected even committed suicide.

People are right to worry whether they have a debilitating disease.

If you ever have any concerns that you (or a loved one) are being taken advantage of in a similar way, contact an elder law attorney.

Robotic Pets for Alzheimer’s Patients

Therapy animals have been used effectively for all kinds of patients, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is not always practical or safe to use real animals with people suffering from dementia. Some care centers are substituting robotic pets.

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can give patients a deep sense of loneliness. Patients often cannot remember where they are and who the people are around them. This can lead to feelings of being alone.

One way to combat this is with companionship. However, elder caregivers and elder law advocates all know how difficult it can be to get the necessary companionship on a consistent basis.

Therapy animals have sometimes been used. However, even with specially trained dogs and cats, there is still a safety risk for many patients and the animals themselves.

Of course, real animals have to be cared for and fed as well, which takes up caregiving time.
The New York Times in “Therapy Cats for Dementia Patients, Batteries Included” discusses a new trend to use robotic cats.

Robotics have gotten good enough and cheap enough that some commercially available robotic pets could have benefits for patients with dementia.

The article discusses their use in one nursing home where the residents really enjoy the robots. They give a sense of joy and empowerment, even when the patients realize that the robots are not real animals.

There has been no conclusive research proving any long term benefits of robotic pets for people with Alzheimer’s. However, the short term benefits are easy to see for those who work with the patients.

Reference: New York Times (Dec. 15, 2016) “Therapy Cats for Dementia Patients, Batteries Included.”