Change in Taste/Smell in the Elderly -
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Change in Taste/Smell in the Elderly

After an individual reaches the age of around 50 years old, they may find themselves tasting less food that they eat. This is due to the taste buds on our tongue being lost as we age. Initially, we start with around 9000-10000 of these taste buds on and around our tongue. Visually, they look like bumps on the tongue and are responsible for the sensation of taste we have, that’s unique to everyone. Around the age of 50, these buds begin to shrink while others simply disappear, which results in the weakened ability to differentiate between different flavors (ie sour, sweet, bitter, etc). However, a large factor of how we taste our food is also in our sense of smell. If you’ve ever noticed, food is less enjoyable when we have a cold or plugged sinuses, because we aren’t able to smell it. Just like how our taste buds are weakened as we age, our sense of smell begins to diminish as well.

Change in Taste in the Elderly

Change in Taste in the Elderly

Although we might enjoy our food less as we age, there are some dangers that also arise from losing this sense. For instance, not being able to detect irregularities in the air we breathe is a very serious issue (poisonous gas, etc). As well, being unable to enjoy food means that we’ll be less inclined to eat, and a loss of appetite leads to lack of nutrition. Food that is potentially unsafe to eat, whether it be expired or has a high salt content, is also a danger because we’re unable to taste for them. Continually eating food with high salt contents without knowing can put your cholesterol to high levels and cause other health concerns.

How can you tell if your condition is a loss of smell or loss of taste? A simple test is to eat a food you are very familiar with, like chocolate, and hold your nose while eating it. If you are able to recognize it from the taste, your condition is likely to be loss of smell. If you find it difficult to taste it, it’s a problem with your taste buds.


What can we do?

Install Gas Level Monitors in Your Home

If we can’t detect irregularities in our home through smell, these detectors will let off a loud alarm if there are any, which could save a life if a device in the house triggers a release of carbon monoxide or another deadly gas

Check and Label Expiration Dates Clearly

Ensure that all expiry dates are labelled in visible pen, and that food that expires soon is eaten first, while expired food is properly disposed of. Consuming food that’s gone bad can lead to food poisoning.

Eat more Variety of Flavors of Foods

By eating a greater variety of foods and experiencing different flavors more often, our taste buds won’t be stagnant and will be less likely to taste the same flavor in all foods as we age.

Approach your Family Doctor

Asking your doctor for their opinion is always a safe option if you have any concerns about your health, or any aging related problems. They will always give you different options and advice on how to cope with your condition.



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