What Causes “Old Person” Smell?

Getting older can be pretty weird, don't you agree? Grey hairs, wrinkles, and a little extra padding around the middle can leave you thinking "who is that person in the mirror?" every morning. While it's best to take these changes with a grain of salt and a good sense of humor, you also want to look and feel your best, no matter your age.

That brings us to a bit of an uncomfortable topic: body odor. Getting real for a minute, a lot of older folks are concerned about "old person smell", which is hard to define but you can definitely identify when you smell it.

What causes changes to body odor as you grow older? Is it all in your head? How can you stay smelling fresh well into your golden years? Here are a few insights into old person smell, as well as what you can do to combat it.

Changes to Body Chemistry

Senior smell is a natural occurrence, to some degree. It's a complicated scientific process, but the gist is an increase in fatty acid production and a decrease in antioxidant production causes a boost in a chemical that can smell somewhat pungent. While there isn't much you can do about science, you can increase your antioxidant intake by eating more tomatoes and taking vitamin C supplements.

Lax Hygiene

Mobility issues make it more difficult for older folks to get in and out of the shower. This can lead to a lax approach to personal grooming, which in turn increases unpleasant bodily smells. If you have concerns about mobility in the bathroom, install some grip bars and anti-slip flooring to keep you safe and secure. And you can prevent mobility problems later in life by building up muscles and joints via exercise. It's never too late to get started!

Dental Issues

Lots of older people have dentures, which can be a good solution to missing teeth. While dentures won't decay like natural teeth, they can accumulate food debris and bacteria. If you have dentures, care for them correctly by brushing them once a day and soaking them overnight. You should also brush your gums, inside your cheeks, and the roof of your mouth on a daily basis using a soft-bristled tooth brush. Whether you have dentures or not, schedule a check-up with your dentist twice per year.

Medications

Medications are a common part of life for many older adults. Some medications impact your body odor, and not in a good way. Medicines used to balance hormones, treat depression, and regulate blood pressure can all affect body odor. Supplements, such as garlic pills, can also create a strong odor in those who take them. When it comes to prescription meds, talk with your doctor about side effects, including unpleasant smells. You may be able to adjust the dosage for better results.

Dehydration

Be honest: do you drink enough water? Water is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, regardless of your age. Men should be drinking 3.7 liters, or 15.5 cups, per day, while women are encouraged to drink 2.7 liters, or 11.5 cups. When you don't drink enough water you become dehydrated, and when you're dehydrated your bodily excretions, including sweat and urine, become much stronger smelling. Increasing your water intake reduces strong odors, and can also provide an energy boost.

While aging is inevitable, you don't have to assume the role of an "old" person just because another year has passed. People these days can remain vital and healthy well into their golden years and beyond. The key often lies in diet, exercise, supplements, and stress-reduction, all of which can help you look great and lead a long, happy life.

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