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How To Help Your Senior Who Can’t Smell Well

Home Care in Laurel MD
Home Care in Laurel MD

Delicious bread baking aroma. Just-mown grass has a distinct, pleasant smell. The stench of rotting food. We rely on our sense of smell more than you would believe. Part of the way you taste things also relates to how something smells. So, of course, you want to help your parents keep their sense of smell and find ways to enhance it.

Did you know that a reduced sense of smell is a common consequence of aging? Loss of smell due to aging is gradual and may go unnoticed, unlike when caused by a virus or other physical condition. Being able to smell will help enhance your seniors’ life in many ways. But how can you really help them when it comes to their sense of smell?

Why Does Loss of Smell Happen?

There is a decline in the function of the olfactory neurons in the nose as people become older. Older adults have fewer olfactory neurons accessible for detecting odors since the stem cells responsible for replacing them don’t function as effectively as they did when we were younger.

Aging of the brain regions responsible for smell and injury to the olfactory epithelium, a small tissue on the top of the nasal canal that sucks in scents, may also impact our sense of smell as we age.

Is It Dangerous for Seniors To Lose Their Sense of Smell?

Temporarily losing your sense of smell is inconvenient, but losing your sense of smell as you age might be harmful. Our nostrils serve as an early warning system, letting us know when anything is amiss. Such as when perishable food in the fridge has gone bad or when there is smoke in the house. When protecting ourselves from potential dangers, our sense of smell is often the first line of protection.

You might become sick from eating that ruined food if you can’t tell whether it’s gone bad or not. If you can’t smell smoke, you have no idea a dangerous fire is burning. It’s impossible to determine when to evacuate a building if you can’t detect a gas odor, such as when someone leaves the stove.

Are There Any Consequences of Losing Smell?

Knowing how a loss of scent might influence a senior’s everyday life is vital, whether it is a symptom of a more serious condition or a normal part of the aging process. Taste and smell are intrinsically connected. It’s true that when one declines, the other always follows suit. The result may be an increased desire for excessively salty or sweet meals among those with an impaired sense of smell. However, increasing a senior’s salt and sugar intake might exacerbate hypertension and diabetic symptoms.

However, the inability to smell (and, by extension, taste) food may cause seniors to reduce their food intake, leading to malnutrition and a weakened state. Furthermore, this might make one more vulnerable to injuries sustained from falling.

How to Help Your Senior With Smelling

If your loved one starts suffering a loss of smell, it’s crucial to be tested by a doctor to rule out physical reasons and ensure the loss of scent isn’t connected to a neurodegenerative illness. If you can’t take them in to get tested, it is time to think about hiring home care who can help a senior get around without you. If the loss of smell is part of the natural aging process, a doctor won’t be able to help much. However, you or home care can help a senior take a few extra steps around the house.

Ensure smoke alarms have functional batteries so a lack of scent won’t endanger a loved one. Natural gas detectors give peace of mind if your loved one can no longer smell natural gas appliances. If your loved one can’t smell, make colorful foods with strong spices (just be careful with salt and sugar). Stronger flavors will taste better for your loved one. A colorful dish makes meals more appetizing.


If you or an aging loved-one is considering home care in Laurel, MD, please contact the caring staff at Care At Home today. 301-970-9706

Ann Smith RN

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