You have probably noted that elderly people have a common and distinctive smell. Japanese scientists have conducted various tests and have concluded that this odor is a result of a certain chemical emitted by older people’s skin.
In 2000, experts from Japan found that the smell comes from a chemical called 2-nonenal. It is found both in young and older people, but the concentration of the chemical in elderly individuals is much higher. The scientists performed an experiment with 22 participants aged between 26 and 75. The results showed that the typical old people smell is caused by the increased amount of 2-nonenal released by their skin.
The experts also explained the increase of the chemical with the advance of age. It is produced by the breakdown of unsaturated omega-7 fatty acids that also become more concentrated with age. It is still unclear what causes this but scientists believe this trend may be related to metabolic changes.