November 19, 2011
Lost Sense Of Smell As We Age

Since a great sense of smell enriches enjoyment of foods and many natural settings a declining sense of smell with age is just another reason to favor the development of rejuvenation therapies.

AURORA, Colo. -- Scientists studying how the sense of smell changes as people age, found that olfactory sensory neurons in those 60 and over showed an unexpected response to odor that made it more difficult to distinguish specific smells, putting them at greater risk from dangerous chemicals and poor nutrition.

"We found clear changes in olfactory sensory neuron responses to odors for those 60 and up," said Professor Diego Restrepo, Ph.D., director of the Center for NeuroScience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine who led the researchers. "When we presented two different odors to the olfactory sensory neurons of younger people they responded to one or the other. The sensory neurons from the elderly responded to both. This would make it harder for the elderly to differentiate between them."

Its like becoming color blind. Old people can't distinguish between as many different scents. I can heart Mick Jagger singing "What a drag it is getting old".

Losing sensitivity to scents is a health hazard. Growing old is dangerous. So lets just not grow old.

According to the study published in the latest issue of Neurobiology of Aging, those losing their sense of smell are at a higher risk of malnutrition since taste and smell are closely related, they may also be unable to detect spoiled food, leaking gas or toxic vapors.

Do taste buds age too? Do old people also get less taste signaling from their tongues?

Imagine someone 70 years old getting some cell therapies combined with perhaps a gene therapy to kill senescent cells on the tongue and nasal passages. They could potentially regain scent and smell sensitivity that they had decades earlier. Throw in similar therapies for their eyes and eyes and their sensory experience could be greatly enhanced.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 November 19 07:20 PM  Aging Senses

PacRim Jim said at November 19, 2011 8:09 PM:

The loss of the sense of smell as we age is auto-protective.

Ronald Brak said at November 20, 2011 2:58 AM:

If the sense of smell could be rejuvenated then I could eat old people curry without weeping.

(By the way, that's curry made by old people, not curry made from... yeah, you get the picture.)

Lou Pagnucco said at November 20, 2011 8:12 PM:

The problem is far worse than losing one's taste sensitivity - it may be a precursor of Alzheimer's.
Apparently the same tau-protein deposits that cause or correlate with Alzheimer's appear in the nasal passage. See:

"Scientists discover new way to detect early onset of Alzheimer's... looking up patient's noses"

Kukui23 said at November 21, 2011 10:30 AM:

Your sense of taste is more attributed to your sense of smell than your taste buds. While you can still taste the discrete tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, it's your sense of smell that gives you the the intricate array of all the details of flavors in between. If you hold your nose, your sense of taste is severely diminished.

PacRim Jim said at November 21, 2011 12:02 PM:

Prescription medicines can affect it, too.

raniya said at February 11, 2015 7:00 AM:

Loss of smell can be caused by nasal polyps, sinus relevant problems and so on. Not only age is a factor. However yes I know the article is on a different topic.

Luis Smith said at April 9, 2015 6:38 AM:

My father lost his feel of smell in his late 40's. He was identified with Parkinson's Disease at age 60. While most people using your reduced feel of scent will not create Parkinson's, your vast majority of Parkinson's disease patients do need reduced feel of smell. Decrease of sense concerning smell is often overlooked by diagnosing physicians as a early signal of PD. My personal father is nowadays 70.

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