Smoking is a habit that many seniors still engage in frequently. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking (and likely other forms of tobacco smoking) is the leading cause of preventable sickness and fatality in the United States; estimating nearly half a million cases every year. In addition, nearly eight out of every one hundred adults ages sixty-five and older smoke on a daily basis. Thankfully, in this health conscious time we live in, places like assisted living care communities and other senior living residences are helping seniors find ways to quit smoking.
Facts about the Effects of Smoking in Seniors
The most commonly known fact is that no matter what your age is, where you come from, or what kind of family background you have, quitting smoking right now greatly decreases the risk of an early death. This is still true even if you or your loved ones have been avid smokers for decades. And the longer you quit, the greater the health benefits. However, most seniors these days don’t know the deeper facts about smoking and the benefits of quitting. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has gathered years of information and found the following facts about seniors who smoke regularly.
Smoking can Lead to Serious Senior-related Health Problems.
- Seniors who smoke regularly have a higher risk of being cognitively impaired and develop signs of dementia.
- In addition, regular smokers are also risking their health as continual use can also lead immobility. This is because smoking’s impact on the body causes muscular degeneration and loss of muscle function. Because of this, long time smokers might need help with daily activities, which means they might need specialized or assisted living care in the later years of their life.
- The body’s senses are affected by tobacco use as well. Elder smokers might develop cataracts, hearing impairment, and have a lesser sense of smell and taste.
- Female smokers are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Smoking Can Lead to Financial Issues.
Aside for being a detriment to your health, frequent tobacco use can lead to other issues in a senior’s lifestyle. According to sources at the Center for Disease Control, smoking can be a negative influence on your finances. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $6.28. With a senior who is smoking around a pack a day, it can lead to around $188 per month (which is around $2,292 per year). That’s on an average cost of a pack, as a pack’s cost can vary due to location (states like California and New York have higher prices). Considering that most seniors living in independent or assisted living care communities are on a fixed income, smoking can leave a dent in their wallet.
In addition, health issues can lead to financial problems down the line. Contracting an sickness related to smoking (whether large or small) means paying your insurance for doctor visits, medications, and other forms of treatment.
Ways Assisted Living Care is Helping Seniors Quit Smoking
Thankfully, more seniors are trying to find ways to quit the habit of smoking. Unfortunately, quitting cold turkey by themselves isn’t effective for some seniors. Which is why many seniors are looking for advice or help from outside sources (like other people in their assisted living care facility or other places specializing in senior care).
- Some seniors are turning to behavioral therapy; which involves talking with a counselor and figuring out ways to get over the habit. These specialists help seniors find what triggers them to smoke and how to avoid these cravings. Since there are a growing number of seniors wanting to quit, many of these counselors are experienced in talking to those in senior living communities.
- While there are no current federal regulations or laws regarding the banning of smoking in senior living spaces all together, these communities are making their own smoking policies
- Many assisted living care and other senior living communities are going smoke-free. This means that smoking of any kind is not allowed on the campus, which goes for both the residents and the staff on site. Smoking might be banned in both indoor and outdoor areas of the campus or communities implemented a designated area for smokers.
- Because of these changes in environment for seniors, seniors who were habitual smokers are seeking out alternatives. This includes alternatives like electronic cigarettes (which are permissible due to being smokeless or used water based vapor).
Quick Tips on How Seniors Can Naturally Quit Smoking
If you’re ready to stop the habit but need some small but helpful tips, there are many to consider.
- Prepare a list of things to do when a craving begins (like talking a walk, chewing on gum, etc.).
- Discard anything that reminds you of smoking (lighters, old cigarette cartons, etc.).
- Ask a family member or friend who already quit on what they did to overcome cravings.
- Review the health benefits of quitting (both now and later on).
As a senior, it might be tough to overcome a habit you’ve had for some time. Still, with some focus and determination, you should be able to quit and live a healthier life.