Sense of smell


Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
Listening to Radio 4 just now I heard a programme on noses. I wasn't really interested as I was putting a meal together but one of the speakers said that Alzheimer's sufferers loose their sense of smell.
If only I'd known that before. No wonder mum couldn't smell the gas escaping when she'd failed to light it yet again. And now I understand why she liked the hyacinths which used to drive her crazy with their scent..and left me gasping for breath because in the past we used to both suffer together, however much we liked the look of them and had to put them out of the room!


Registered User
May 14, 2007
South East London/Surrey border
I didn't hear the programme but do know there is a suspected link. Peter is taking part in a study that his consultant's registrar is doing and every 2 months has to do a 'scratch & sniff' test to identify common smells. As they don't tell us the results I have no idea if his sense of smell is getting worse or not but at our initial talks about the tests we were told the aim is to help devise an early indicator test for possible alzheimers/dementia.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
My husband has definiely lost his sense of smell, but hasn`t lost his sense of taste, and I always thought the two were related.

My mother completely lost her sense of smell. The house set on fire when she forgot her toaster was on, the bread got stuck, burst into flames, set fire to her kitchen curtains, etc. etc. But she also lost her sense of taste too.


Registered User
Mar 20, 2007
Hi Zadok

Well, I know my Mum has lost her sense of smell, she is 82 and has been with us for 9 months, she in mid-stage Alzheimers, but only diagnosed last August.
She seriously can not smell our dog, when he breaks wind or the scents from our garden.

Because Mum lived by herself since Dad died in January 2000 it was hard to detect there was a problem.

IF losing sense of smell is proved to be an early indication of Alzheimers, it could mean that medication could be given even earlier.

Perhaps thats why Alzheimer sufferers wear dirty clothes and think they don't need to wash.

My Mum does say that she enjoys her food, I don't know if she can taste it, I ask and she says, yes.

She prefers sweet things though, which I limit, because she has Arthritis, maybe it's the sweet taste thats the last sense to go. As I read alot about how Alzheimers LOVE sweet things, right to the end.


Take Care Bye for now
Janetruth x


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Of course it is completely possible that the sense of smell is perfectly all right. It may simply be that the brain can no longer interpret the sensory messages sent by the nose.

My Jan is registered blind, but her eyes are organically fine. The neural connections both to interpret images, and to control eye movement have simply been messed up by her dementia.

End result is the same as if she were organically blind, of course, but a researcher might be looking in the wrong area if they thought it must be the eyes themselves.

Complex thing to understand, the body.


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
Alzheimer's sufferers loose their sense of smell

Now I never new that , did they say why it happen, what stage it happen ?

I like those scent stick & ever time I was to put them on mum use to complain of the small , that was around 6 mouths a go , Not try them again , since I move .


Registered User
Mar 22, 2007
good thing in my mothers case, she lost her sense of smell ages ago, and often, there is an unpleasant smell where someone has an accident, if she smelt that it would be another thing to complain about.
however, I must say, today as I entered the home, the administrator stopped me to say mum had asked her to ring me and apologise on her behalf, so she had remebered and understood how badly she had behaved!


Registered User
Mar 15, 2007
West London
I think this is a very interesting thread. My mother developed AD in her eighties, but said she had had no sense of smell since her thirties - she said it was since she gave birth to us two daughters. However she insisted she could taste food, she was a very good cook and certainly enjoyed her food. But often in my growing-up years I would have a saucepan thrust in my face with a "Does this still smell of fish?" Neither my father nor I were ever asked about her sense of smell in her later years and when she was in care.

I have been meaning to write to the Alz Society for some time to suggest that it might be useful for their research people to set us some sort of questionnaire system so that younger relatives of dementia sufferers could record their parents' habits and foibles. We people in our sixties are the ones who can still recall details from the past of the current generation of Alz sufferers. If it is left too long we also will be travelling towards less reliable memories.

Just an example: An acquaintance in an office I was working in a while back said that he was not looking forward to spending the weekend at his parents-in-law as the fridge was "always full of veggie-water". This meant that the water in which vegetables had been boiled was saved in various receptacles in the fridge ready to be added to new dishes and soups etc. This to make use of any nutrients or vitamins which would otherwise be thrown away.

My mother, of a similar vintage, had the same theory. She would either save the vegetable water or drink it straight away. And I accepted the theory, in fact when I set home on my own in the late sixties I asked her for a couple of spare "handleless mugs" as I had not yet had time to break them for myself.

My point is that this was probably a widespread habit in the War and post-War years. But the downside is that all these reserved veggie-waters would be concentrated when reused, in particular the salt which was added to each vegetable boiling. Also as the normal saucepan was aluminium, there would have been residue from each boiling, concentrated. I know AS have done research into possible effects of aluminium consumption, but I feel my generation could contribute more information if asked. Incidentally, many years ago I read a handy tip: "If your aluminium pan has become stained, try cooking stewed apple in it and the black line will disappear". Even back then I felt I did not really want to eat my saucepan stains!

Regards, Rhoda.
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Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
My dad did not have dementia, but he spent the last year of his life in a NH because he was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis.

On one occasion my mum and I visited to find him totally confused, and not recognising us. We asked for the doctor to be called, and after tests he was found to have abnormal amounts of aluminium in his system. Once this was corrected, he returned to normal, and was completely aware until he died.


Registered User
Apr 15, 2007
My mum doesn't appear to be able to smell things either and when she has a cuppa she puts spoonfuls of sugar in, she never used to have sugar, she also loves sweets something else she never bothered about before,when I took her to the hearing place as her hearing is very poor (she has two hearing aids with little affect) the specialist said he felt it wasn't actually her hearing that was impaired, it was more the brains ability to process the information due to the dementia. So I tend to agree with Bruce on his post reply. Taffy.


Registered User
Mar 15, 2007
West London
Skye: Aluminium/confusion - fascinating, thank you.

On sugar: As I understand it there are four genuine tastes - sweet, sour, bitter and salty - which do not depend on sense of smell. Mum was also fond of sweet and salty things (that salt again). When my Alan was diagnosed diabetic he changed on my suggestion from sugar in drinks - three spoons per mug - to little tablet sweeteners and took the powder version sweetener on his breakfast cereal. He adjusted with no problem and has lost quite a bit of weight.

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