Tips&TricksUnveiling the truth behind the distinctive 'old person smell'

Unveiling the truth behind the distinctive 'old person smell'

We explain where the old man smell comes from
We explain where the old man smell comes from
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1:43 PM EDT, April 3, 2024

Have you ever noticed a distinct smell when standing next to an elderly person while using public transportation? This phenomenon, often referred to as the "old person smell," has intrigued many and led scientists to explore its origins. Remarkably, it is not related to hygiene.

"Old age is no joy" aptly describes the ageing process. As we age, we encounter physical and mental challenges, from mobility issues to memory problems, where even short walks can feel as daunting as an Iron Man challenge. However, one peculiar aspect that garners attention is the distinctive old person smell.

Research has shed light on the cause of this characteristic, sweet odour emanating from elderly individuals, revealing that it is not due to poor hygiene or neglect. The explanation is more straightforward.

Unraveling the mystery of the "old person smell"

Think back to visits at your grandparents' home, where a unique, sweet aroma often greeted you. This same scent is noticeable in various public places, such as stores, pharmacies, or on buses. But what causes this "old person smell"? A team of scientists from Yokohama, led by Dr. Shinichiro Haze, sought to answer this question.

In their 2001 study, published in the "Journal of Investigative Dermatology", they discovered that the smell is due to a compound known as 2-nominal, which increases in concentration as one age. This escalation is a natural, inevitable process.

Can we evade developing the "old person smell"? The researchers from Yokohama suggest that lifestyle choices play a significant role. A balanced diet, avoiding harmful habits like alcohol or smoking, and minimizing stress can all mitigate the scent's intensity.

Eliminating the scent of aging from homes

Everyone desires a clean and pleasantly scented home, regardless of age. Older individuals, in particular, may feel self-conscious about inviting guests over due to the specific odour in their living spaces. So, how can one remove this smell from an apartment? If you're a close relative, helping with cleaning can make a significant difference.

Start with thoroughly cleaning all surfaces, including washing curtains and carpets, and ensure the apartment is well-ventilated. Additionally, consider gifting your grandparents a fragrance lamp or an electric scent diffuser as a thoughtful gesture. Nevertheless, it's essential to understand that the scent associated with ageing is largely out of one's control, a fact worth bearing in mind.

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