This week on Parents Are Hard To Raise…
Are Your Aging Parents Beginning to Smell like an Old Shoe? Here’s what Scientists say.
Have you begun to notice that your parents and their house have begun to develop a dull, kind of sweet stink to them? You’re not alone.
Don’t tell Betty White, but elderly people really do have a chemically-distinct odor, and it’s more common than you might think.
Like other body odors, “old people smell” is produced when chemicals from the skin glands get broken down into small odorous molecules that drift away into the air. Scientists suspect the specific chemical that gives your aging parents their unique odor is a compound called 2-nonenal, which produces what’s described as an “unpleasant greasy and grassy odor” similar to that of stale beer.
In Japan, where the thought of old people smelling poorly is of particular social concern due to the high value placed on personal hygiene, the cosmetic firm Shiseido Group has introduced a perfume to neutralize the offencive odor the Japanese refer to as kareishū (加齢臭), which translates to “smells like an old shoe” (no. only kidding. I have no idea what the translation means).
Another line of Japanese anti-aging odor products, Mirai Clinical, uses persimmon extract as a natural deodorizer against it. The tannin in the fruit supposedly dissolves 2-Nonenal in a similar way lemon juice knocks out a fishy smell. Mirai Clinical sells body washes and soap designed to eliminate the problem.
Sorry Betty, the truth is… old people smell. It’s now a proven biological fact of aging, and yet one more thing we as children of aging parents have to look forward to.
Would you try a soap just for “old people smell?” FB me your comments, please.
Resources and links for episode 18
- Shower Safety
A lot of older people avoid bathing because they are unsteady in the shower. Here’s the Shower Seat I recommend to my clients. It’s comfortable, stable, easy to keep clean and a great help to the caregiver when bathing a person with dementia. And since people with dementia can be frightened by water hitting them in the face, I also recommend a handheld showerhead.
- Extreme Temperature Alarms and Solutions
- Too Much Stuff