Loss Of Smell Linked To Dementia


A simple sniff test may determine if people are at risk of developing dementia, researchers claim. Studies have found that a failing sense of smell may be an early warning sign of the disease, with those showing the worst symptoms being more likely to get a dementia like Alzheimer’s. 

1,430 people with an average age of 79 were tested at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US, being asked to identify 12 various smells that included cinnamon, banana, soap and petrol. The group of testers did not show any symptoms of dementia at the first testing but were tracked over a period of three and a half years, during which 250 testers showed mild cognitive impairment that led to 64 of those being diagnosed with dementia.  54 of those further developed Alzheimer’s. 

Early Diagnosis Tool to Detect Alzheimer’s 

Scientists think that this loss of smell could be linked with the part of the brain that controls memory and that although more research is needed; these smell tests may be used along with other types of testing to give an early diagnosis of dementia long before any main symptoms show. 

Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society states:

‘ This study adds to the growing evidence that a deteriorating sense of smell could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s…if used in combination with other tests it may help researchers to identify which of those already experiencing memory problems are at a greater risk of dementia.’ 

Deterioration of a sense of smell can lead to further implications in older people such as a loss of appetite, which can cause problems if living in a care setting. Mealtimes may prove difficult with care workers trying to encourage those affected to eat healthy foods.

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