Old people should bathe more often

Yesterday I told my friends that when I get old and start to smell I expect them to tell me. Unfortunately, they will also be old and smelly.

When someone starts to lose their sense of smell, why do they think, “Gee, I don’t have to bathe today, because I smell just fine! Why did I used to bathe every day? I can get by with once a week! And now I must put on my pretty clothes and go to the church tea.” Right, and no one will notice the smell.

I am not talking about someone who is poor, disabled, unsophisitcated, or even elderly.

Yeah that happened to me at about 26 years old.

I think most of them are just afraid of slipping in the tub and falling down.

I don’t like smelly old people either but I think you’re forgetting one other factor; it’s hard for them. It’s a lot easier to justify skipping today’s bath/shower when taking it involves a lot of pain, discomfort, and the risk of falling and seriously injuring yourself.

My grandmother can barely walk up a flight of three stairs. Getting in and out of the tub, well, I honestly don’t know how she does it.

Current aged care guidelines are that they should bathe less often - it’s not like their lives are full of strenuous physical activity.

And the fact that broken bones can end up killing them makes what others think a pretty minor consideration.

I definitely plan on keeping up my strenuous bathing rituals when I get older. I’m young but I bathe about 2x a day. I know, I’m insane, but I just don’t feel right unless I’m really clean. I promise to be a non stinky old person in about fifty years! You can hold me to that!


My grandma has a shower seat. It’s rust-proof and light weight and it means she can sit in the tub while taking a shower. Since it’s a low-chair height it’s much easier to get up from, too.

You also got to remember people in the old days didn’t bathe every day either, it wasn’t a norm

Now granted, I’ll admit I’m reaching as most old people aren’t THAT old, but it wasn’t till the mid 50s when Amrerica was declared “electrified.” In other words all areas of the USA had access to electric power. In places like Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia, there were still places into the mid 50s that lacked plumbing, electricity etc.

So if you had to take a bath by boiling water in a kettle and pouring it into a tub, you can see why people only bathed once or twice a week.

It’d be easy to see if you never got into the habbit of bathing daily how you’d find it not important.

Our mothers and grandmothers may have grown up in homes without running water. Women washed their hair once a week. Baths in a tub took time and with one bathroom in the house, you had to schedule it.

Now that almost everyone has a bathroom with a shower, if you live alone, you might be leery of getting in and out of a tub. If you’re the old lady who gets her hair done once a week, you might not want to get your hair wet. And if you’re still wearing polyester, which doesn’t wrinkle and doesn’t get visibly dirty, you’re probably wearing your clothes several times without washing them.

I just described my mom. I never noticed that she smelled but I’m a smoker, and everyone knows our noses don’t work right. :slight_smile:

My parents just spent a week at my sister’s house over Thanksgiving. She went into their bedroom at one point late in the week and realized it smelled like “old people” in there. My parents had not brought enough clothes for a full week, and yet my mom, for reasons unknown, was refusing to do laundry while they were there; my sister finally had to insist that my mom wash some clothes. I think part of the rationale is that “we’re not getting sweaty, therefore we’re not sweating and therefore not stinky, and don’t need to change/wash our clothes every day.” As noted upthread, your sense of smell fades when you get old, and so you don’t realize that you and/or your spouse are, in fact, stinky. Bad deal.

Also, as you age your skin gets drier. If you wash TOO much you will be itchy.

Here’s a biological rationale: changes in body chemistry resulting in an overabundance of palmitoleic acid (and possibly other fatty acids, like vaccenic acid) secreted by the skin; palmitoleic acid is converted into a noxious substance called nonenal as bacteria and lipid peroxides (whose abundance in the skin increase with age also) break it down.

The Japanese cosmetic company Shisedo has been making a sh@#load of money off products designed to target the smell via the palmitoleic acid/nonenal factor. Dunno if they really work, but I’d give them a try.

Would bathing more often often help or would it have no real effect?

Currently, I think nothing of getting up on Sunday, throwing on the same clothes from the day before, putting on a hat and heading out to Home Depot or Canadian Tire unshaven and potentially smelly. (I draw the line at brushing my teeth though!)

I’m 47. In 25 years I will care a whole lot less what anyone thinks of me.

My mom had quite the opposite reaction. As her sense of smell faded with age, she would compensate by hosing herself down with perfume. It was a serious problem when we were down in the kitchen, she was still in the upstairs bedroom with the door closed, and we could smell the perfume before she came down.

That was my mom’s reaction when my sister gently informed her that they needed to do laundry more often: she dipped herself in a barrel of perfume. Not because she wanted to be able to smell the perfume (as your mom apparently did), but to mask the BO she apparently could not smell.

A dermatologist suggested I should bath less often and I was not to keen on getting into water before the suggestion. I do feel better without the daily ritual.

But if you know you have BO wouldn’t you want to bathe more often and not wear so much perfume? Assuming it’s safe for you to shower and all?

I have to say that there are many medical reasons that can cause them to smell bad a short time after a bath.

Why do you want old people to get the flux?

I have no idea what ‘the flux’ is, I just remember Anjin complaining about it when the japanese were forcing him to take a bath.

ETA: From ‘Shogun’