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Senior Care - Is 'Old People Smell' A Real Thing Or Our Imagination?

by Amy, November 02, 2017

senior care

Whether you go into a nursing home, assisted living center, or even the home of your aging parents, you think you notice something that just smells 'different,' and not too pleasant. Is that an 'old people smell,' or is there really such a thing? Turns out, there is - and it begins as we grow older, some say as early as 40.

What causes that odor, even in those who practice excellent hygiene? A chemical compound that develops as we age, called Nonenal. So, why does this compound form?

As we age, the skin becomes weaker, and fatty acids secreted by the sebaceous glands cause natural oils to oxidize faster and react to the oxygen in the air. This is how Nonenal forms, and, unfortunately, all of the scrubbing in the world with soap and water won't remove the odor, which the National Institutes of Health describe as an "unpleasant greasy and grassy odor."

Aging seniors aren't the only ones who suffer from Nonenal, or "old people smell." Many women experience night sweats and hot flashes during menopause, which involves heavy perspiration and an increase in fatty acids. Not only that, both males and females are often under a great deal of stress regardless of age, another factor that contributes to Nonenal.

Is there anything you can do to eliminate the odor caused by Nonenal? While it may not be possible to completely get rid of the "old people smell," you may be able to reduce it by:

  • Eating a diet consisting of clean foods
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Keeping stress under control
  • Not smoking cigarettes or tobacco products
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation

Japanese green tea and persimmon extract are believed to help combat Nonenal, and according to a recent article at the Huffington Post, some Japanese companies have introduced products such as soaps, body washes and perfumes that allegedly neutralize the odor.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it's a natural part of the aging process, and perhaps living a healthier lifestyle can help.

Care Indeed provides a wide array of senior care services for families in San Jose, Palo Alto, and all around the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you need daily care, around-the-clock care, or help with caring for a loved one with dementia or other issues, our caring and compassionate caregivers focus on making life happier and less stressful for seniors and their family members.