Learning! Old Person Smell is Real


I work in a building that also holds a seniors centre.  This means I get to experience a lot of different things: the joyful inspiration of Latin Wednesdays when the Latino seniors get together and dance to salsa music, unfortunate bathrooms almost all the time, suddenly having to go from walking at my usual swift pace to the crawl of aged osteoporosis, and random words of wisdom being tossed my way everywhere I go.

All of that, plus the old person smell.

I never quite knew how to describe it, and always felt guilty for even thinking about it, because isn't that discriminatory or ageist or something?  But it turns out I wasn't making it up, or being a horrible person.  It's REAL.  The sort of faint, sweet-ish, stale scent that is ALWAYS in the bathroom when the old ladies have been in there is not in my head.

The reason for old person smell is 2-nonenal, which sounds sort of like something you'd read in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but is an actual thing that is created through the oxidative breakdown of other chemicals and has a distinct odour.  From the age of 40 on, we produce just a TON more 2-nonenal than when we're young.

Hence, old person smell.

Learn more from the source: Mental Floss.

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