Many of us are aware that our vision and hearing can be affected with advancing age. Fortunately, these changes can often be accommodated with simple devices such as eyeglasses, magnifiers, volume controls, or hearing aids.
Less commonly known is that our sense of smell also changes with age, beginning around age 60. This change is more subtle, and is not easy to accommodate. A recent study warns that a diminished sense of smell can put seniors at risk by making them less able to detect spoiled food, smoke, leaking gas, or chemical vapors. (Source: Neurobiology of Aging, Dr. Diego Restrepo.)
Professor Diego Restrepo, the study’s author, found that while we do not lose the quantity of olfactory sensory neurons as we age, these neurons are qualitatively impaired in distinguishing between smells with specificity.
What does this mean for seniors living at home? Your Cascade Companion Care caregiver can be a valuable asset in reducing your risk from a diminished sense of smell. Some positive actions might include:
*Regularly checking food and dairy products for spoilage.
*Seeing that CO2 and smoke detectors are installed in the home and maintained.
*Knowing where the home’s gas shut off valve is located and having the appropriate wrench available, if needed.
*Checking with family members about the servicing of chimneys, furnaces, and gas stoves on a regular maintenance schedule.
*Addressing mold, pet accidents, or other possibly hidden odors before they become a health risk.
If your adult parent is receiving in-home care, speak to our Care Coordinator about any concerns you might have about your parent’s sense of smell. Your Cascade Companion Care caregiver can be in important ally in making sure that your parent feels right at home in a safe, toxin free environment.