Decreased sense of smell may indicate early dementia

Posted by ngyose @ngyose, Jan 4, 2020

One of the symptoms or signs for this (Early Onset Alzheimer), is the deteriorating sense of smell. This is from my experience as I now recall. But this is not receiving any attention because of self denial on the part of the caregiver or the person.

I had just assisted a senior and although the person seems to be agile (for his age), the person admitted that the sense of smell is no longer there.

I had tried to sound it out,

Although the family did admitted that there are other minor signs, it is perhaps just beginning

But the fact is that, this keen sense of smell that is no longer there, did not ring any alarm bells.

Sad to say that, although the person, due to the age, does not belong to the Early Onset Alzheimer, it seems that the this symptom has not been noticed.

There is no mention in the latest news from the Mayo Clinic.

Is there anybody out there who had noticed this ?

If the above is valid, how can it be put to use to identify Alzheimer, instead of running around the bush to get the necessary tests for it.

And after getting getting to pay for all the costly tests to ascertain that it is Alzheimer’s……what can be done ? Nothing but to retreat into a cocoon to avoid being stigmatized.


Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Brain & Nervous System group.


I will check into it. Thanks.

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Never heard of this… I will tell my husband about it. So far I have not lost my way.


@ngyose, as it turns out, Mayo Clinic researcher, Rosebud Roberts, conducted a study about deteriorating sense of smell and dementia about 5 years ago. Here are links to the study and an article about the study
– Association Between Olfactory Dysfunction and Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease Dementia
– Decreased sense of smell may indicate early dementia

Hopefully this information will help support your advocacy in improving the early detection of dementia among health professionals in your area.

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Colleen. I heard or read about people with dementia losing the smell of peanut butter….. Has anyone else heard this. I keep thinking I can smell peanut butter ever time open the jar but then my nose is right there!!!!!!!! I'm just forgetting a lot of things…….


It's heartbreaking. I was told that I should get mom a really inexpensive fake wedding ring so she wouldn't give it away…or lose it or have it stolen.

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Yes..I did this for my mom…I have a few around as replacements. It works.


My wife was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers in November of 2019. Although I think she has had the disease for about two and a half years. Her sense of smell varies from being able to smell to not being able to smell. She smells things that have no odor. So her sense of smell is all messed up. She really dislikes the smell of most anything that is being cooked. She also has a distorted sense of taste. Her diet has decreased to eating primarily toast and peanut butter unless I can get her out to eat, then she will eat a normal meal. It's a juggling act for sure. Here's a question for anybody that wants to answer: Has anybody noticed with their loved one with Alzheimer's that their eyes have that look of being there but not beong there? My wife has that look all of the time. It breaks my heart. Just wondering. It's kind of a blank stare.

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I know the look quite well. When my mom wakes in the morning she is always confused…not knowing exactly where she is…it takes a few minutes to calm her…and sometimes not. And often when we are out the look comes to her eyes and she is anxious and wants to go home. Sometimes she wants to go home before we leave the door.
It’s hard but we have to go forward as caregivers….peace and courage and I share your broken heart.


Colleen. I heard or read about people with dementia losing the smell of peanut butter….. Has anyone else heard this. I keep thinking I can smell peanut butter ever time open the jar but then my nose is right there!!!!!!!! I'm just forgetting a lot of things…….

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Hi @sakota, your experience with peanut butter caught my attention — partly because I switched to almond butter three years ago (to avoid the sodium that piques my blood pressure) and partly because you're "forgetting a lot of things," as I do. But my experience should calm any stress you may feel over dementia. I have been under treatment for hypertension for 35 years, and it has been a growing problem — with rising dosages of more medications — every since. However, I'm on three antihypertension meds now, and I have tried and dropped 13 others over the years — partly because my nephrologist found a genetic defect in my kidneys, partly because of potassium starvation discovered 10 years ago, partly because I developed atrial fibrillation five years ago, and partly because of a small stroke almost three years ago. Those events forced big changes in my medication regimen, with hypertension and threats of stroke the leading factors in my therapies.

My medical team and I concluded three years ago that "forgetting things" is due to 1) aging (I'm almost 84) and 2) my medications, not dementia. Three factors drove us to those conclusions: 1) a thorough examination and testing by a neurologist, 2) stabilized ability to remember that matches stability that has developed in my medical regimen, and 3) recognition that almost everybody in my age group has trouble calling up recently used information and names along with rarely used information and ideas. Historically, my father and my maternal great grandmother both lived to 95, and I'm aiming for at least that goal. Hope you'll join me in the years ahead. Martin


Several of you who've participated in this discussion on early-onset Alzheimer's have talked about a loved one and their symptoms. Would love to hear how things are going, and I think your responses will benefit others in this thread.

Hi, @sarcomasurvivor – is your mother currently living? If so, how is she doing now?

@greff – wondering how things are going with your wife?

@sueinmn – how is your son-in-law's Mom doing lately?

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