Helping Seniors quit smoking. Home care providers have an important role in the health of their patients. Whether it’s a registered nurse taking care of someone with health problems, or a home support worker who helps with day-to-day activities, a caregiver can affect the lives of the elderly people they are taking care of in more ways than one. One of the most effective ways a caregiver can assist a senior is through helping them to stop smoking.

Smoking:  A Popular Vice For Seniors

Although it is widely known that smoking is unhealthy, the activity is still a part of many senior’s lives. For some, it is a nostalgic reminder of when they were younger, while for others it is a way to cope with being unable to control more of their own lives. For many, it is simply an addiction that they cannot kick. Whatever the reason, smoking is a habit that is bad for the health of both the senior and their caregivers.

How Smoking Affects a Senior’s Health

It is a widely recognized fact that smoking is detrimental to health. This is because the lungs are not designed to cope with smoke instead of air, as well as the many toxins that are in cigarette smoke.

Seniors, in particular, are prone to negative health issues that arise from the inhalation of smoke. This is due to their advanced age and the fact that age reduces the body’s ability to heal and resist disease.

Some of the possible effects of smoking are:

  • difficulty breathing
  • lung cancer
  • chronic lung problems
  • dangerously low blood pressure
  • mental decline and dementia

Quit Smoking? It isn’t Easy

Quitting a habit is difficult for anyone, and seniors who have smoked for decades will find quitting especially challenging. When one is accustomed to smoking a cigarette after dinner, for instance, it can be a daunting prospect to face dinner knowing there will be no cigarette afterwards. The sudden absence of nicotine can also cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure, as well as nervous issues.

Since some of the medication-based aids for quitting smoking are inappropriate for seniors, there are other ways for them to get some help. One of the best ways to quit is to replace smoking with a healthier habit. Chewing gum has been a favourite for decades, as it satisfies the craving to have something in the mouth as well as helps to take the mind off the nicotine. Enjoying a piece of sugar-free candy or another favourite treat also works well.

How Can Caregivers Help a Senior Quit Smoking

Caregivers can be instrumental in this process because not only can they keep an eye out for slips, they can also help to remind the senior why they are quitting in the first place. They are trained to be tough in the face of uncooperative patients, while still maintaining a caring and compassionate demeanour. They make the perfect addiction counselors.

Celebrating the Non-Smokers

The week of January 15-21 is Canada’s National Non-Smoking Week. It has been running for over thirty years, and is one of the most important and longest running health education projects in the country.

It is designed to:

  • educate people about the danger of smoking
  • prevent people from starting the habit and becoming addicted
  • help those who want to quit smoking
  • promote the rights of non-smokers
  • remove the rank of ‘normal’ from tobacco use, the industry, marketing practices, and products
  • help create a smoke-free country

For More Information on how to Quit Smoking

Learning about the effects of cigar smoke can be a major deterrent. You can read about the effects on seniors at this BMC Geriatrics report.

For more help to quit smoking, you can visit this comprehensive resource: