Smoking and Seniors
It is never too late to stop smoking, but the sooner you do it the more you can help prevent further damage to your health. The health risks for seniors who smoke are multiplied as seniors are also facing the challenges of aging.
In the United States smoking is the main culprit responsible for about one out of every five deaths every year.
Smoking damages the lungs and can lead to asthma, chronic bronchitis and severe lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) also called emphysema and lung cancer.
Smoking causes breathing problems and puts you more at risk to catch the flu and get complications like pneumonia.
Heart Attack and Stroke
Smoking raises the risk for having a heart attack or stroke, as nicotine raises blood pressure and smoking leads to breathing problems forcing the heart to work harder.
Smoking puts seniors for a greater risk for developing osteoporosis (porous bones), a disease that makes bones brittle and leads to fractures. Some fractures like those of the hip can lead to permanent serious disability and early death.
Besides lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can lead to several other kinds of cancers like mouth, throat and tongue cancer, cancer of the larynx (voice box), cancers of the esophagus (food tube), stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.
Pipes and Cigars can also Cause Cancer
Smoking pipes and cigars can cause cancer of the mouth, lips, larynx, esophagus, and bladder. If pipe and cigar smokers inhale the smoke they are also in danger of contracting lung cancer.
Vision Problems and Blindness
Smoking causes irritation of the eyes and can lead to all kinds of vision problems like cataracts. Smoking puts a senior at even greater risk for developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.
Danger from Second-Hand Smoke
Second-Hand Smoke from Smokers is also dangerous. Just being in the room with a smoker or sitting next to them or even catching smoke blown by the wind can cause many of the above-mentioned diseases, especially to people who already have heart or lung disease.
Second hand smoke is just as dangerous from pipes and cigars as it is from cigarettes.
Chewing tobacco and sniffing snuff are also extremely hazardous. Smokeless tobacco can cause cancers of the mouth, pancreas and pre-cancerous lesions (oral leukoplakia) and gum problems. Smokeless tobacco is also just as addictive as smoking cigarettes.
Electronic Cigarettes or E-Cigarettes have nicotine and other chemicals which you inhale without getting smoke. However, you can still become addicted to nicotine.
The nicotine in cigarettes is addictive and this is the main reason smokers have so much trouble giving up smoking. It takes time for the body to get rid of the nicotine and in fact, nicotine addiction can cause withdrawal symptoms in people trying to kick the habit, such as feeling tired, being extra hungry, feeling irritable and depressed and unable to fall asleep.
Make up your Mind to Quit
Seniors have to be motivated to quit and stick it out. The first week is the hardest and after that it will be easier to resist the temptation to light up a cigarette.
You might consider joining a support group for people who want to stop smoking.
Talk to your Doctor
If you are finding it too hard to quit, talk to your doctor who might recommend nicotine chewing gum, a nicotine patch or nicotine lozenges or your doctor might prescribe a nicotine inhaler or spray.
Smoke Free 60+
Here are all kinds of online tools at Smoke Free 60+ to help you or your loved ones to quit smoking.
The National Cancer Institute
You can phone the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline and speak to someone who can help you to quit smoking.
The National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline, 1-877-448-7848 (1-877-44U-QUIT) Smokefree.gov, which connects you with your State’s Quitline, 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW)
Veterans Smoking Quitline, 1-855-784-8838 (1-855-QUITVET)
What you will Gain When you Quit Smoking
1. You will feel good knowing that you lowered your risk for heart attacks, cancer and strokes.
2. You will have a healthy appetite and eat better foods. Also foods will taste and smell better.
3. You and your clothes will not reek of cigarette smoke.
4. You will be a wonderful example to your loved ones.
5. You will save money. Instead of spending money on something that can harm you, there will be extra money now for some pampering and maybe a nice little vacation.
6. Your pets, and loved ones will be healthier in your smoke-free home.
Smoking is so bad for the health of everyone no matter how old or young they are. However, in seniors who are anyways facing challenges from aging, the bad effects of smoking are multiplied. Second hand smoke also has a very bad effect on family pets and grandchildren who come to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Every senior who smokes should do everything to quit.