Instructables

What exactly is "old people smell"?

I would say one house in three with elderly residents seems to have that bitter staleness kind of smell. Cleanliness of the residents doesn't seem to effect if the smell is present, or how strong it is, so I wonder, what causes it? Can it be removed? Also, does our sense of smell lessen as we age, thus causing them not to notice? Inquiring minds want to know!

Re-design5 years ago
It's the sweat of toiling in the salt mines all your life just to be chucked out on you butt when you're not as productive as a younger man. Or pee.
yokozuna (author)  Re-design5 years ago
I've decided to select this as the best answer since I actually laughed when I read it, while reserving the right to change to a real answer if one should appear in the future, since I really would like to know.
justme012 years ago
I am trying to figure out , many smells , but this one smell making me ILL . granny is 96 yrs old , and there's a "certain smell " im trying to figure out what is it . It's not her "depends " and not BO , to this day I can't figure it out . She lives with us and she's clean . I do everything for her . She's bathe every 3 days , she wanted me to give her a bath once a week , I said no , we've water you're bathe every 3 days , I try and agree with her . Her clothes is clean once a week , her bedroom and bathroom is clean weekly but I do in there daily and check and see if anything needs done whatever it might be . I'm with her 24/7 , I'm like her personal nurse , maid , chef , etccc .. This smell I'm smelling isn't the best smell in the world . I sure appreciate someone to help me .
scoochmaroo5 years ago
My new apartment building smells like old people in the hallways, but as far as I can discern, not a lot of old people live there (I haven't seen any!). 
So explain why it smells like my gramma's house!
ok this is wat it is ,its not the old pepole that smell its just old garments or even bed sheets ect,a young person might have old stuff that is rotting a way slowly and will give of the same smell, it like a bug that eats away at the fabric can easly contaminate a new garment if placed next to each other like even over one day,once contaminated you have to bin it! can never be washed out
and will spread very fast ,hope this was useful:)
cbritain3 years ago
I have friend that is only 62, and they smell so bitter, even tho they are always clean. I wonder if they need to exfoliate weekly, or scubb better. I don't know. I told him, he should see a doctor about it. Because he and I are drivers, and was thinking about teaming some freight. But can't figure out how I could be in a truck wit him, if I can't even stand sitting next to him. Reminds me of a dead skin cell smell, or something. Then I got to reading about Phaomones, and was wondering if some people don't smell good to some people. He is such a nice person, and know he is real good driver. I was wondering, if him having only a bath tub, instead of shower could have anything to do with it. He rides in my car sometimes, and the smell stays in there for ever. I had to buy a steam cleaner and clean the heck out of passenger seat. And also wonder if men don;'t want to change their hygene practice, when we get older we need to take better care of ourselves. He says, no has ever said anything to him. I said, it would be rude for someone to say to someone. I am tired of worrying about all this. He acts clueless. Like I am the one that has a problem.
messick1013 years ago
well, it seems that they never shower... so it depends on what kind of lotion they use ! =D
happyjo4 years ago
Prunes, or baby powder. Possibly both.
onrust4 years ago
Because they fart dust!
 Naphthalene.

AKA Mothballs.
Cellcell5 years ago
I just taught a class ( Spinning) to mostly 20 to 40 year old people. I will be 62 in November. I hold myself back as not to push the class too much. I don't have old people smell. Keep a good active life and watch your weight, the rest is in God's hands. I also think depressed older people may not have the energy to bathe as much as they should.
yokozuna (author)  Cellcell5 years ago
The question is why their houses smell, not why they do. I would say this is usually people in their 70s and 80s or on up who don't get out of the house that often.
...depends. hah get it depends.. adult diapers.bwahaha
jtp1395 years ago
well i do know that as you grow older your skin cells don't turn over as much and oil production nearly comes to a halt so they don't feel the need to shower as much or at least not wash the hair as much. This is why the old ladies go to have their hair set once a week. Plus the products they use like perfumes and powders probably don't have the best smell available.
yokozuna (author)  jtp1395 years ago
So you're saying old people smell in general and the stench is so prevelant that it causes their entire home to smell bad?
kelseymh5 years ago
"Bitter staleness"? More like stale bitterness, methinks. The bitterness of years, nay decades, of unfulfilled dreams, destitute desires, hopes discarded upon the trash heap of eternity. Crap. I need to go get another beer and cheer myself up.
lol, you must be middle aged or getting on towards it. The words give you away. Be happy, you have a child (or more?) and a job. Better than some of us.
:-D
yokozuna (author)  kelseymh5 years ago
I was hopeful that you may be one of the few able to give me an actual answer, because I really am curious. :) Why do the houses always stink?! I don't want to be the old guy that doesn't know my house smells like crap!
seandogue5 years ago
a variety of molds, fungi, and so forth that tend to develop on the skin and in the lungs of older people, and which are difficult or impossible to eliminate without health budgets that most of us will never have..
things is...most of us will get first hand experience eventually, even if we can't smell ourselves...
Chicken22095 years ago
dont know it may not be an issue of smell lessening with age, but typically when your around a smell alot you tend not to smell it.
Go to a nursing home, that, my friend, is the smell of old age.