Problems with Smell

Frequently Asked Questions

6. What impact can loss of smell have on an older person's life?

Many older people are not even aware that they have a problem with their sense of smell because the changes occur gradually over several years. They may not even notice that they are experiencing a loss of smell until there is an incident in which they don't detect food that has spoiled or the presence of dangerous smoke.

When smell is impaired, people usually have problems appreciating the subtle flavors of food, and say that food is less enjoyable. Some older people change their eating habits. Some may eat too much or eat too little. Loss of smell may also cause someone to eat too much sugar or salt to make the food taste better. This can be a problem for people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.