How Aging Shapes Our Sense of Smell and Seniors’ Quality of Life

Our senses are our constant companions, assisting us with memories, experiences, and the outside world. Among these senses, our olfactory system—which gives us the sense of smell—has a significant impact on how we perceive the world and interact with others. However, with age, this sensory experience alters in ways that affect our day-to-day experiences. The good news is that with loved ones’ support and in-home care providers, seniors can take these changes in stride and learn to overcome any obstacles they might bring.

Understanding the Olfactory System

In-Home Care Milledgeville GA - How Aging Shapes Our Sense of Smell and Seniors' Quality of Life
In-Home Care Milledgeville GA – How Aging Shapes Our Sense of Smell and Seniors’ Quality of Life

Our sense of smell can detect anything from the delicious taste of a freshly prepared meal to the pleasant scent of a flower in bloom. It may also trigger memories and alert us to possible threats. However, a number of physiological, neurological, and environmental factors start to alter this sense as the years pass by.

The complex network of olfactory receptors located in the nasal cavity is what allows humans to smell. These sensors pick up molecules in the atmosphere and give impulses to the brain, which interprets them as particular smells. However, changes in the nasal structure that come with aging, such as a reduction in the number of olfactory receptors and a decrease in mucus production, can impair the sense of smell. Also, neurological changes, such as changes in neurotransmitter levels and a decrease in brain capacity, exacerbate age-related olfactory deterioration.

How Can Changes to the Sense of Smell Impact Quality of Life?

As their sense of smell gradually deteriorates, seniors will likely notice a change in their quality of life. Olfactory dysfunction can affect safety, nutrition, and mental well-being in addition to the pleasure of food and scents. For instance, seniors may be less able to recognize bad food due to reduced smell sensitivity, which raises the possibility of foodborne infections. Additionally, an inability to fully experience flavors may cause malnutrition and weight loss.

The good news is that seniors can improve their general quality of life and preserve their olfactory health despite challenges with home care assistance by their side, along with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate water intake, which can all support olfactory function. In addition, seniors can engage in mindful eating and experiment with flavors, spices, and textures to keep their sense of smell strong.

Accepting a Multisensory Way of Life

For seniors to preserve their sense of smell, they must also acknowledge the interdependence of their senses and adopt a multimodal lifestyle. What does that mean? Cooking, gardening, and spending time in nature are examples of multisensory activities that can help offset shifts in smell and promote a stronger sense of connection to the environment.

The sense of smell can influence seniors’ emotions, memories, and perceptions in ways they likely never imagined, which is why it’s essential to learn about age-related olfactory changes and adopt techniques to enhance olfactory health. Ultimately, with the help of home care and their loved ones, they can work around the challenges that these changes bring and continue to enjoy life.


If you or an aging loved one are considering In-Home Care Services in Milledgeville GA, please get in touch with the caring staff at Angels of Mercy Private Homecare Services, Inc. today at 478-745-5111.

Angels of Mercy Private Homecare Services is a Trusted Home Care Agency serving Macon, Warner Robins, Perry, Gray, Milledgeville, Forsyth, Cochran, Jeffersonville, Eastman, Fort Valley, and the surrounding areas.

Zandrea Durham