Taste and Smell Age Related


Moreover, it is not uncommon for older individuals to report that 'things don't taste right', and these complaints have been generally attributable to changes in odor perception (Rawson, 2003).

Rawson (2003) posits a significant number of medications that have the ability to elicit chemosensory side effects which has the ability to lead to poor pharmacological compliance or altered selection of nutritional status and foods. Metabolites or the medications themselves can be secreted into the nasal mucus or into the saliva and directly impact receptor cells. This is often evidenced by the unpleasant taste frequently associated with antibiotics (Chodosh et al., 1998). In instances when medication known to alter the senses must be taken for extended periods of time, however, an adjustment in dosage may serve to remediate the problem.

Analysis and Conclusion

Rawson, in the aforementioned article provided scholarly and empirical information regarding the impact on the perceptions of flavor and aroma and the senses of taste, smell and chemical irritation as it relates to older age. The peer reviewed article provided both physiological, pharmacological social consequences of changes the elderly can experience as a result of changes and/or deficits in the sensory system. Empirical studies were provided as a foundation by which the research was posited upon, issues of well being, taste aversion, and food/drink altering were addressed. Chemosensory loss was explored in significant detail and issues of infections, and medication were discussed.

Further, the researcher advised that as age related issues of taste and smell perception are not universal with the elderly or across senses, it creates the challenges of how to effectively address the problem not just for reduced flavor intensity but also a shift in sensory profile of particularly complex aromas and flavors of food (Ransom, 2003). The researcher suggests that because odors of a particular concentration may be perceived as less than half as intense by the elderly, some flavor supplementation may be necessary in order to produce equivalency in taste as supplementation has been proven to enhance satisfaction levels among the elderly will diminished ability to smell (Mathey et al., 2001).

Most importantly, the researcher reminds of the importance of taking concerns and complaints expressed by the elderly regarding an inability or increased difficulty to taste or smell seriously as it could represent symptomology for major illnesses or can result in pharmacological non-compliance. Moreover, because loss in chemosensory systems are real in the elderly and have the ability to impact well being and quality of life it is important that particularly health professionals not disregard these concerns and help in the development of coping strategies that can also help to avoid health hazards.


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Rawson, N. (2003). Age related changes in perception of flavor and…