Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Benefit of Getting Older

There's not a lot of enthusiasm among most people for getting older; oh, sure, teens want to be older, but after 21, being older just seems to lose its appeal. Muscle tissue weakens and sags, vision and hearing start to weaken, and memory is often relegated to things that happened many years ago while forgetting to turn the stove off on a regular basis. The worst fear of most of us, I think, is the dreaded trip to the nursing home...a fact of life (though mostly death) for most of us. Actually, lying in bed most of the day, having meals prepared and someone to give me a bath seem pretty darn good on most days when I have to drag myself out of bed long before I really want to and take care of those ADL's on my own. One visit to a nursing home cures anyone of that notion, though, and I think the worst part of all of that assails me as I walk in the door: there seems to be that "old person" smell all around. New evidence suggests, though, that older people actually smell BETTER than younger people! Johan Lundstrom, a neuropsychologist in Philadelphia (originally from Sweden) noticed one day that the nursing homes in this country smelled exactly like the ones at which his mother had worked in Sweden and set out to discover why old people smelled like that. He found, however, that older people did NOT, of themselves, smell bad at all! Here's what he did: Lundstrom got 41 volunteers between the ages of 20-95 to sleep in T-shirts for five nights that had nursing pads sewn into each armpit. During the day, the pads were removed and placed in freezer bags to eliminate the possibility of bacteria growing while the pads were not "in use." The participants took showers every night before bed with odor-free soap and shampoo, and the rest of the sleepwear was washed in odor-free detergent. The volunteers were also restricted from eating spicy foods which might otherwise affect the result.. After the five days, the pads were removed and cut into smaller sections and placed in sealed jars. Several pieces from various participants were placed in each jar, though all segments came from people of roughly the same age so as not to confound the results. Some of the results were no-brainers, but the one concerning the old people was somewhat startling. Keep in mind that all samples had a distinctive odor: some was less offensive than others. The study proved: 1. men smelled more than women, in general. 2. People aged 75-95 smelled FAR more pleasant that men 45-55...the group whose odor was the worst. 3. Women in the 45-55 age group had the most pleasant odor. Scientists have long felt that olfactory sense is used in a wide range of activities such as picking out romantic partners, distinguishing kin from strangers and distinguishing men from women. I would add that no study needed to be done concerning the association between smell and foot or smell and what Dad leaves around the Laz-E-Boy then blames on the dog. This, as we get older, there is one less thing we have to worry about. Now I have to see if I can get somebody to wait on me hand and foot while I still have most of my senses about me. A pleasant odor being one of them.


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