You know how old people have a tendency to smell bad? You know, that whole cliche about smelling like an old geezer, or an old biddy, smelling like urine, BO, bad breath, and dirty crotch. Sorry to be so blunt, but you know what I mean.
The elderly. Usually it is assumed that the smell is the result of poor hygiene. Being unable to wash properly, either due to poverty, of not having people care for you and unable to care for yourself, or of laziness, not having the energy or the strength to care, each breath a hardship, getting up is a struggle, walking around, a struggle in balance, a broken hip waiting to happen. They lose their hair, and their coordination, and their ability to reason, their ability to speak, like their reverting back to infancy, like a drooling baby, with no knowledge about the world, unfamiliar with their body and the laws of gravity, totally at the mercy of the elements and the goodwill of strangers.
But the difference is that the bright light animating the infants zest for life, being open to it all, smiling, because everything is new and wonderful and beautiful and brilliant and creative, and they are eager to learn, to love and to be loved and to become a part of this life, a wonderful adventure awaiting them, is missing from the elderly falling apart, dying not because they choose, but because it is a written death sentence; the ground is breaking away beneath their feet, the organs are collapsing, the skeleton support of life is disintegrating, and it is entirely out of their control, and they are unprepared for it.
Disintegration while still living, little by little things stop working properly, like an impending computer hard drive failure, things slow down, start acting strangely, chaotically, programs don't boot properly, they freeze up, like a glitch in the system is causing complete chaos and malfunction, and eventually the computer is dead, it just won't boot anymore, nothing you can do but replace it.
The insight is, that the horrible smell so often encountered in the elderly, is not simply a matter of poor hygiene, poverty, or laziness, but rather, it's the odor of decay, of disintegration, of sickness and disease, of organ failure, and of death, eating them away as they live, gradually gnawing away at them, until nothing is left. You see, you start dying long before you actually die, sometimes even before you actually start living, in the sense that life is experienced in the full awareness of your heart. It can go on for years, this disintegration, being a very gradual process, but the signs are there for those who know what to look for, what to smell for, and what to listen for.
The smell of urine reveals much. A great depth of insight can be had, for those trained, or intuitively receptive, to know the signs, to recognize the differences between healthy urine and unhealthy urine. The smell of death and disease is always unpleasant and putrid. No perfume or cosmetic can cover it up, it is exuded in the pours of the skin, in all bodily fluids and secretions, it shows in the eyes, in the nails, the complexion, the voice, and the breath. It is fully visible with no place to hide, except in plain sight to those who fail to see it.