Many elderly people may receive care and general support from others, whether it be their family or a specialized senior care agency. Whomever it is that takes care of them has an enormous impact on the health and wellness of the senior, as they take care of, and support them in so many ways. One of the best things that a caregiver can do is to help a senior through the process of quitting smoking.
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By now, it is widely known exactly how bad smoking actually is. The combination of certain chemicals with tobacco has been proven to be linked with major health risks. However, for some seniors, smoking provides a nostalgic feel, reminding them of their younger years. For others, it is a coping mechanism as they begin to realize that they are losing some abilities and may not have total control of their life anymore. And for most, it has become an addiction that they have not been able to conquer. No matter what the reason is, smoking is a dangerous habit and can lead to bad health consequences for both the senior and the caregiver.
Seniors are more prone to the negative health issues that come from inhalation of cigarette smoke. This is because advanced age inhibits the body's ability to be able to heal and resist diseases. Some of the major side effects of smoking include hypertension; increased risk for lung cancer; chronic lung diseases such as COPD, bronchitis, and emphysema; heart attacks; strokes; cancers of the larynx and mouth; pancreatic cancer; peripheral vascular disease; and increased risk for mental decline, and dementia.
Quitting smoking is not easy for any individual, and it may be especially difficult for a senior that has been smoking for decades. Years of smoking would have become a habit that has been ingrained into the brain and routine. A senior may become anxious knowing that there will not be a cigarette when they are used to having it. This anxiety can cause an elevated blood pressure and heart rate, as well as other anxiety-related side effects that the senior carer should be aware of.
Some medication-based aids that aid in quitting smoking may not be appropriate for some seniors. In place of these, it is suggested to replace smoking with a healthier habit. Chewing gum is quite popular, and helps to take the mind off of the nicotine craving. A piece of sugar free candy or another loved treat can work just as well.
Caregivers can aid in the process by keeping an eye out for a slip up, and can gently remind the senior of the reasons that they are quitting. You can encourage distracting activities to ward off cravings, including something as simple as stepping outside for some fresh air.
Celebrate the small victories with the senior. It is important for them to know that their efforts are being recognized and rewarded. It may seem small to those who do not have a smoking addiction, but for someone who has done it for most of their life, every positive milestone is a huge deal. Assure the senior that it is not only beneficial for themselves, but also for those around them.