On my desk sits a bouquet of lilacs. When I smell lilacs I always flash back to my youth. One of the wonders of spring in New England is the blooming of lilacs. I would pick them and fill the house with the sweet smell of spring. After the long harsh winter the color and scent promised warm and sunny days ahead.
Your sense of smell brings an acute awareness of the world without words to describe. What do lilacs smell like? They are sweet and sharp. But what does sweet and sharp smell like? We lack a language to describe scents and yet we all know what flowers smell like.
One of the first senses to fade as we age is our sense of smell. Along with it goes our sense of taste. Is there something proactive we can do to keep the senses sharp?
A change in hormones and body chemistry affects all of our senses. Mostly we focus on sight and sound, but our sense of smell is also an important sense that fades as we age. However, it is the first sense to be awakened when we are born.
We know that the number of fibers in the olfactory bulb, along with olfactory receptors decrease with age. The bulb losses may well be secondary to sensory cell loss along with a general deterioration in our central nervous system and cognitive ability to process information. Mammals have the ability to replace these cells; however this process degenerates with aging.
The old adage “if you don’t use it you’ll lose it” Is a truism. Unfortunately we live in an artificial world full of artificial smells and taste. So the best way to keep the sense of smell strong is to focus on the scent of real flowers, real spices and real food. Dull the sense with artificial “stuff” and you dull the mind. So what is your flower of choice? What scent takes you back to your childhood? One whiff and you’ll drift back in time and like my lilacs the harshness of aging will subside and bring to you, body and mind a proactive way to keep your sense of smell youthful and strong.
Go ahead take a whiff of youth and linger in the moment. Just smell the flowers.
Doctor Lynnfollow Doctor Lynn