Losing your sense of smell can leave a bad taste in the mouth, reducing your ability to taste and enjoy food.
It can also be a sign of early mental decline, explains University of Melbourne researcher Dr Anna Wolf.
“People with problems with identifying smells in particular, they are twice as likely to develop dementia,” Dr Wolf told 9News.com.
‘Sniff school’ could help older Australians with their memory (9news)
Now the University’s Psychiatry of Old Age unit is developing a novel new way of improving people’s sense of smell – and in turn boosting their brain function.
Dr Wolf has set up a world-first “olfactory” or smell training program.
Study participants are exposed to various “sniffing sticks”.
These are scientifically certified pen-like cylinders that release a myriad of anonymous odours.
“So these might be … unpleasant smells, fruity smells, sweet smells, aromatic smells like eucalyptus,” she explains.
Participants’ ability to identify the various scents are then recorded and analysed by the researchers.
Study participants are exposed to various “sniffing sticks”. (9news)
“While they (participants) are doing the smell tests we introduce them to well-established cognitive training strategies.
“When we are smelling we are actually activating various parts of the brain … and there could be a knock-on effect on other thinking and memory skills.”
Losing your sense of smell can have serious consequences too – such as impaired recognition of dangerous odours such as smoke or food that’s turned bad.
So improving seniors’ ability to smell well could be lifesaving.
The researchers are now recruiting more volunteers for their “sniffing school”.
If you are aged over 55 and got some spare time contact the researchers via NOSEfirstname.lastname@example.org.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019