Emerging evidence suggests that olfactory function is closely linked to memory function. The aims of this study were to assess whether olfactory and episodic memory functions follow similar age-related decline trajectories, to identify different patterns of decline, as well as predictors of the patterns.

1023 participants from the Memory and Aging Project were followed for up to 8 years with annual episodic memory and odor identification assessments. Trajectories were modelled using growth mixture models. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify pattern predictors.

Three patterns of joint trajectories were identified; Class 1- stable average performance in both functions (n=690, 67.4%); Class 2- stable average episodic memory and declining odor identification (n=231, 22.6%); and Class 3- decline in both functions (n= 102, 10.0%). Class predictors included age, sex, APOE ε4 status, cognitive activity level and BMI. Participants in Class 3 were most likely to develop dementia.

Episodic memory and olfactory function show similar trajectories in aging. Such classification can contribute to a better understanding of the factors related to cognitive decline and dementia.