Just when we were getting used to the idea that many (if not most) of us will lose brain function as we age, another news report tells us another thing is likely to leave us: our sense of smell.
According to the Wall Street Journal, half of us will experience some reduction in nose function by age 60; by 80, three-fourths of us will.
Definitely not good news! What could be better than the smell of morning coffee?
or the air after a spring shower?
or clothes dried in the sun?
I've often thought my sense of smell is more acute than most, as I am able to smell and identify scents before others do. And my scent memory is very strong. Once I’ve sniffed a particular perfume and know the name, I can detect and identify it in a crowded room.
We know that memories are triggered by scent associations. I remember my first “boyfriend” in fifth grade smelled like Dial soap.
Aquamarine lotion by Revlon reminds me of a high school friend who always carried a bottle in her handbag. I loved that smell.
I like the smell of books,
and bread baking in the oven.
What a tragedy it would be to lose one’s sense of smell!
According to the Journal article, “puzzle books” for the nose are available. These include exercises that sharpen the olfactory function the way crosswords exercise your brain.
It also recommends filling small jars with various spices, pencil shavings and plant leaves and sniffing them regularly. Thirty minutes each day is recommended in order to kick start the receptors in the brain. Do we really have time for this though?
People who teach others how to smell — perfumers and sommeliers — advise their students to "smell mindfully" during the day. Would this qualify as “nose meditation?”
To test your sense of smell, hold a cotton ball soaked in alcohol beneath the chin and see if you can smell it. Passed this one.
Another test is closing the eyes and holding the nose and tasting chocolate and vanilla ice cream to see if you can tell the difference. OK, tried that one and I’m in good shape. And what a perfect excuse to have desert!
I wasn’t expecting to lose my sense of smell, and so far, so good. But one never knows, so I expect I’ll have to do the scent test more often. What a perfect excuse to have desert!
How's your sense of smell? What are some of your favorite scents?