A recent study has found that elderly people who can smell roses , paint thinner, lemons, and turpentine, may have a lower risk of developing dementia. Conducted by UC San Francisco, the researchers tracked some 1,800 participants in their 70s for a period of 10 years, to understand if their sensory functioning was directly linked to the development of dementia. When they had started, all the participants were dementia-free, but 18 per cent of them (328 partcipants) developed the condition over the course of the research.
The study has been published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Sensory impairments could be due to underlying neurodegeneration or the same disease processes as those affecting cognition, such as stroke. Alternatively, sensory impairments, particularly hearing and vision, may accelerate cognitive decline, either directly impacting cognition or indirectly by increasing social isolation, poor mobility, and adverse mental health,” author Willa Brenowitz, Ph.D., of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, was quoted as saying.
The researchers said that more than touch, hearing or vision, a keen sense of smell has a stronger association against dementia. In fact, it was found that participants whose smell declined by 10 per cent over the course of the study, had a 19 per cent higher chance of developing dementia, as opposed to one or three per cent increased risk for corresponding decline in vision, touch and hearing.
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The participants were enrolled from a random sample of medicare-eligible adults. Cognitive testing was done first during the study’s beginning, and then repeated every year. Dementia was defined by: a testing that showed a significant drop from baseline scores, documented use of dementia medication, or hospitalization with dementia as a primary or secondary diagnosis. The researchers also found that participants who remained free of dementia, had higher a cognition at enrollment and showed no sensory impairments.