Quitting Smoking for Seniors: Is it too Late?

Stop-smokingIf your elderly loved one is an avid smoker and you are not then you have probably tried every way in the world to get them to quit. They may say that they cannot, that they are too old, or that it is too ingrained in their personality. Many elderly smokers have smoked for the majority of their life and frankly do not want to live out the rest of their years without having a few cigarettes each day. In today’s society, elderly smokers make up a large percentage of adult smokers, and many of them have been smoking since they were young adults or teenagers. Since they have been smoking for so long, they often do not see any point in quitting now. However, older adults who smoke have a large risk of developing severe medical complications from smoking due to their age and because they have smoked for so long. Plus, they are significantly less likely than younger smokers to believe that smoking could be damaging to their health. Even so, it is still a fantastic idea to get them to quit smoking. Their health could improve, they could reduce their risk of developing many diseases, and they may even notice a vast difference in how they feel each day.

Dangers of Smoking

Everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking; however elderly adults who smoke usually do not care about the dangers they are putting themselves in. They often have the mindset that if they have smoked for decades and have not had any negative health effects then they probably will not have any health effects. Many elderly smokers also think that the health effects of smoking are overblown. They grew up in eras that did not have booming medical research, and grew up with parents or grandparents who likely smoke. For this reason, they may think that doctors touting the medical dangers of smoking are full of it. But, in reality, smoking is a dangerous habit that can have serious health effects and can even lead to death in many cases. Smoking is directly responsible for the majority of the cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also plays a large part in lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and lower respiratory tract infections. Any of these medical conditions could easily harm an elderly adult and become fatal.

Reasons Why Seniors Should Quit

If your elderly loved one smokes at all, then you should try to convince them to quit. This may not be an easy task, but if they would quit then their health would improve and they may live a longer and fuller life. There are many reasons for why a senior should quit smoking. Here are a few compelling reasons why your elderly loved one should kick the habit.

  • Bone fractures occur in more seniors who smoke than in those that do not smoke.
  • Smoking can reduce a woman’s overall bone density after they have undergone menopause. This can lead to osteoporosis developing or lead to bone breaks and fractures.
  • Smoking in the elderly has been linked to macular degeneration, diabetes, colorectal cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and many other devastating health disorders that could affect the elderly population.
  • Ditching the smoking habit will save them money. For one, they will no longer have to pay the burgeoning prices of cigarettes, but for two their insurance premiums on their home, life, care, and health plans should lower.
  • As quickly as 20 minutes after they smoke their last cigarette their body will begin to heal itself. The longer they go without smoking, the more of its consequences they can reverse.

Steps to Take when Quitting Smoking

If you are helping your elderly loved one quit smoking, then there are a few steps you two can take together to kick the habit. These following four steps can be employed to determine if they are ready to quit and to help them quit the habit completely.

Question their Readiness

If your elderly loved one has considered quitting smoking in the past, then bring the issue up with them again. Continue talking with them about quitting smoking to observe how ready they are to quit. When they feel completely ready and understand the difficulties that arise with kicking the habit then sit down together and put a plan into action to quit. Together you can write out the pros and cons of quitting. You can also make a pledge to quit and make plans to celebrate once they have quit their habit completely.

Establish a Quit Date

Smoking cessation is not something that should be stretched out over many months. Reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke per day or switching to low-tar or low-nicotine cigarettes for a while will not help them quit completely. Instead, it will prolong their cessation plans and they may lose their momentum to quit. Set a quit date together that is 30 to 45 days in the future. This date is the day that they must have quit smoking.

Prepare to Quit

During their 30 to 45 day quit plan keep a record of how much they smoke each day and if they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Also, try to develop ideas for what they can do instead of smoking. Drinking water, chewing gum, exercising, or going out with friends are all great activities to replace their daily cigarettes with. The record can also be used to keep them accountable. If on day 15 they are still smoking as much as they were on day 1, then they may need to change their plan and cut back a bit more.

Stick with It

Once they have reached their quit day and officially quit smoking then the fight evolves into sticking with it. Many smokers go back to their habit because they lose their willpower or do not think they feel much better once they have kicked the habit. It takes time to feel better after smoking, so they must stick with their plan to quit. To do so, help your loved one avoid areas where everyone is smoking and help them stay accountable by allowing them to call or talk with you when they feel the need to smoke.

Smoking is a horrible habit that no one should ever start. The elderly population comprises the majority of adult smokers and has the hardest time quitting smoking of any of the age groups. Often they are resistant to quit due to their age and mindset, but it is essential that they kick the habit to stay healthy. If your loved one desires to quit then follow the guidelines above to help them kick the habit and restore their health.