Published May 31, 2012 by Tony

Older People do Smell?

Body Odors originate from an interaction between skin gland secretions and bacteria on our skin. As people age, the activity of different types of skin glands changes, evidently, and this factor may contribute to the perceived change in body odor with age.
Two things are certain:

1 – The smell of elderly people’s skin is different, compared with younger one. Scientifically the real reason isn’t clear yet, with those who say that it is a sign of the “good genes” that have allowed a male to live into old age, as it happens in the animal world, making him more attractive to females. While other scientists believe that the change could be associated with increased inflammation (part of an immune response) within the bodies of the elderly.
2 – The smell of the elderly people body seems less intense and less unpleasant than the body odor of young or middle-aged people, according to study researcher Johan Lundström, at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. On the contrary, most young people affirms and guess that old people’s odor is unpleasant. But this probably has more to do with negative perceptions of old age, rather than with the odor itself, as the new study indicates.
The results of this study support the cross-culturally popular concept of an old person odor,” writes the international team in a study published today in the journal PLoS ONE.
In the study, participants rated the smell of the elderly people as less intense and less unpleasant than the body odor of young people (20 to 30 years old) and middle-aged people (45 to 55 years old). This effect was driven by how the participants rated the body odor from men, who appeared to smell the worst and the strongest in middle age. The team used young people to do the sniffing for two reasons: “They were more plentiful as volunteers and using participants from different age groups could potentially introduce a new layer of complexity, if age of the smeller influences how body odor is perceived”, Lundström said.

Point 1 granted, I say that in many cases, the elderly people’s smell becomes more strong – and for this looking unpleasant – because older people have different lifestyle. I mean, they no longer have the young people frenzy because adulthood leads to greater wisdom and balance, where every act is planned and motivated. In general, young people participate more in social life and are more active, and this combined with the desire to “impress others” bring them to be more demanding in terms of personal hygiene. A lot of young people even showers more times a day, and can change clothes and underwear several times! An elderly person, without valid reason, rarely comes to this, especially during wintertime. My grandparents, when still alive, usually used to have a bath or a complete toilette one day a week only. Probably for this, any grandchild had reason to say that grandparents smelled. Anyway, I prefer my grandmother’s smell  rather than some boys’ feet stink!


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