Taste-related sensations in old age

T. Ogawa*, M. J. Annear, K. Ikebe, Y. Maeda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The sense of taste is important as it allows for assessment of nutritional value, safety and quality of foods as well as for food enjoyment and quality of life. Several factors are suggested to be associated with taste sensitivity, and higher prevalence of taste disorder has been reported among older adults. This review focused on the reported causes and correlates of taste decline in older adults, with the aim to consolidating existing evidence and identifying gaps and limitations. Using a scoping review methodology, we sought relevant literature from the last 20 years. Search terms included taste, gustatory sense, older adults and geriatric. Considered research was limited to reports that involved research participants over 60 years old, papers written in English, and manuscripts published after 1995. We have consolidated available evidences on the influences on taste-related sensations among international cohorts of older adults. Influences can be reflected under the topics of physiological changes in the sensory organs, physiological and behavioural variables related to taste sensation. This review identified three areas of historic and current research endeavour related to studies of taste sensation in older subjects: physiological changes in the sensory organs, factors related to the ageing of the individual and behavioural variables affecting taste-related sensation. Key limitations and gaps in the current literature include notable lack of consideration of potential confounding, mediating and moderating effects, while future research is indicated in the areas of measuring the quality of health and life. As global population ageing accelerates in the coming decades, maintaining taste sensations and sensitivity in older adults will be a key measure to ensuring quality of health and life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-635
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug
Externally publishedYes


  • ageing
  • behavioural specificity
  • older adults
  • physiological change
  • quality of life
  • taste sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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