Loss of smell hazardous, researchers say

Share this article:
Age-related changes to sense of smell can put elderly individuals at a higher risk for accidental interactions with dangerous chemicals and poor nutrition, according to a new study.

Researchers led by University of Colorado's Diego Restrepo, Ph.D., studied 440 subjects divided into two groups. Half were over 60 and half were 45 or younger. They biopsied cells from people in both groups to determine differences in olfactory sensory neurons.

“We found clear changes in olfactory sensory neuron responses to odors for those 60 and up. When we presented two different odors to the olfactory sensory neurons of younger people, they responded to one or the other,” Restrepo said. “The sensory neurons from the elderly responded to both. This would make it harder for the elderly to differentiate between them.”

Because the sense of smell and the sense of taste are so closely related, researchers say this puts seniors at a higher risk for malnutrition. Additionally, seniors have a harder time detecting hazards such as spoiled foods, gas leaks and other toxic vapors, according to the study.

Full findings appear in Neurobiology of Aging.
Share this article:

More in News

Medicare rates could be adjusted for start and end of hospice care ...

Medicare payments could be adjusted to reflect how hospice services tend to be more intensive at the beginning and end, according to findings recently published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Information Products & Data Analytics.

Nursing home resident dies after allegedly being smothered by son

A terminally ill nursing home resident in Ohio has died after his son is alleged to have smothered him, according to police.

Medicare should pay for skilled nursing services without a qualifying hospital stay, experts tell Senators

Medicare should pay for skilled nursing services without ...

The time has come to eliminate hospital stay requirements for beneficiaries to qualify for Medicare coverage of skilled nursing services, experts told a Senate committee Wednesday.