You’ve probably experienced what some call “old person smell;” that musty odor at your elderly relative’s home or an assisted-living facility. A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology has found the cause, and it turns out that a person’s hygiene doesn’t help avoid it.
The odor is caused by a chemical called 2-nonenal that’s created when omega-7 fatty acids break down as they oxidize. Your body’s natural antioxidant defenses start deteriorating around 40. Switching deodorant or shampoo won’t help at all, because the chemical isn’t water-soluble.
The part that stinks the most? This isn’t a problem that can be avoided. The study says this is an inevitable part of aging for just about everyone, probably including you. The next time you visit your elderly relatives and that familiar odor hits your nostrils, remember…they can’t help it, and one day you won’t be able to, either.