How many animals can you name in a minute?
How many different types of fruit can you name in a minute?
The answers may just give a clue to whether or not you are suffering from early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study asked the question of 136 volunteers, with surprising results. People with early signs of Alzheimer’s managed to name an average of ten to fifteen animals or fruits. Healthy adults managed twenty to twenty-five. Not a huge difference, but enough for researchers to be able to pick out early Alzheimer’s disease patients simply by their word lists.
Another interesting result of the study? The folks with signs of early Alzheimer’s named common animals — like dogs and cats — and common fruits, but left out treats and beasts that were less common like zebras and kiwi fruit.
Early detection can help doctors a chance to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
It isn’t always easy to tell if a person is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The first symptom may be mild forgetfulness, which we often excuse due to age. Most people with mild forgetfulness don’t have Alzheimer’s disease! As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty remembering names, recent events, or activities. Simple math problems may become incomprehensible.
As the disease progresses further, the forgetfulness will interfere with daily activities. A person in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s may forget how to do simple tasks or fail to recognize familiar people and places. At its worst, the disease can cause patients to be anxious or aggressive, or even wander away from home.
Medical testing (including memory testing and different brain scans) can help detect Alzheimer’s disease. If you are concerned about a loved one’s forgetfulness, try the fruit or animals test, and see what happens. If they can only manage to name ten or less in a minute, it may be time to talk to the doctor.