The third week in January is National Non-Smoking Week. We thought we would share some information on smoking and the importance of kicking the habit for good.
We all know smoking is bad for you, but is particularly dangerous for older adults as it puts them at heightened risk for various health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and cancer.
Older adults who continue to smoke have more difficulty with diseases common with aging, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and common respiratory problems. Additionally, smoking can interfere with the absorption of medications that are commonly prescribed to older adults so they won’t work as well. Smokers might struggle completing activities of daily living, and can suffer from blindness, and cognitive impairment brought on by cigarette smoke. Older adult smokers report more mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and have reported poorer relationships with family members compared to former smokers and those who have never smoked.
The most common question asked by older adults is “Does it make sense to quit at my age?” The answer is “YES! It’s never too late to quit smoking!”
After you quit smoking even in your 60s, 70s, and 80s:
- Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop to more normal levels.
- Your nerve endings begin to regenerate, so you can smell and taste better.
- Your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will begin to function better.
- You will cough and feel out of breath less often.
- Your chance of having a heart attack or stroke will drop.
- Your breathing will improve.
- Your chance of getting cancer will be lower.
Why is smoking so hard to quit? Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that makes cigarettes so addictive. Some people give up smoking and have no withdrawal symptoms at all, while most will continue to have strong cravings for cigarettes. These cravings can make people feel grumpy, hungry, or tired. Some people even get headaches, feel depressed, or have problems sleeping or concentrating. It’s important to remember that these symptoms fade over time.
One to the first steps to quitting smoking successfully is to make the decision to quit. The next step is talk to your family doctor, they can help you set up a plan, prescribe medication if needed, offer support and help you succeed and kick that habit for good.
It’s important to think of ways to deal with situations that trigger your urge to smoke and to cope with cravings.
- Talk with your doctor.
- Read self-help information. There are many books available at the library.
- Go to individual or group counselling.
- Download a mobile app
- Ask a friend or family member for help.
- Think of what you can do with the money you spend on cigarettes and set up a rewards system.
- Take a walk or try a new physical activity you enjoy.
- Take medicine to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Some people worry about gaining weight if they quit. If that concerns you, make a plan to exercise and be physically active when you quit—it may distract you from your cravings and is important for healthy aging.
Quitting smoking is not an easy thing to do but the benefits make it well worth it. In as little as 2 weeks the airways in your lungs will start to relax and you can get more air into your lungs and breathe easier. Talk to your the third week of January is National Non-Smoking Week it’t the perfect time to quit.
Smokers Helpline: Connect the way that works best for you, online, phone, text. Smokers' Helpline has proven, free and personalized tools to help you quit successfully.