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By Citizen Reporter


Five simple ways for seniors to quit smoking

Quitting smoking can be challenging and rewarding, requiring time, effort, and support. Follow these tips to get started.

Due to the addictive nature of tobacco, quitting smoking is not easy. The act of quitting often requires a combination of strategies and resources to overcome the physical and psychological dependence on nicotine.

According to medical aid provider Affinity Health, seniors may face unique challenges when it comes to quitting smoking.

‘Quitting is possible – no matter your age’

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Affinity Health says tobacco use is more harmful and harder to quit as people get older.

“However, seniors who quit smoking can still experience significant health benefits, such as reducing their risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer and improving their quality of life.”

DIY home hacks
A happy couple dancing in their kitchen. Picture: iStock

To help in the battle, the medical aid provider shared tips to help people who are looking to quit smoking and kick the habit for good.

1. Get support from friends, family, and professionals

“Seniors may benefit from seeking social support from loved ones who can encourage, motivate, and hold them accountable for their progress.”

If that is not possible, consider joining a support group, either in person or online, where seniors can share their experiences, challenges, and successes with others going through the same process.

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Additionally, healthcare providers, quitlines or smoking cessation programmes can serve as sources of guidance and counselling. Medical professionals can also recommend medication and other resources to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

2. Use nicotine replacement therapy or medications

The medical aid provider advised seniors to consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or medications to manage their cravings and withdrawal symptoms and increase their chances of success.

This is because NRT products, such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays, can deliver small doses of nicotine to the body without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes.

Medications can also help seniors reduce their craving for nicotine and improve their quit rates but should only be used after consulting with their healthcare provider before using any NRT or medication. Such medication may have potential risks and side effects and may not be suitable for everyone.

3. Find alternative ways to cope with stress and emotions

A large number of people have said they turned to smoking to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, boredom, or other negative emotions.

Affinity Health, therefore, believes that quitting smoking may require seniors to find alternative ways to manage their mood and stress and address the underlying causes of their emotional distress.

“Some options that seniors can try include relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga; physical activity, such as walking, gardening, or dancing; hobbies, such as reading, writing, or painting; or social activities, such as volunteering, travelling, or spending time with friends and family.”

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Seniors may also consider seeking help from a mental health professional if they feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with their emotions.

4. Make a plan and set a quit date

“To increase their chances of success, seniors should plan their quit attempts and set a quit date that is realistic, achievable, and specific,” advised the healthcare provider.

Start by identifying your reasons for quitting, then follow up by setting goals, and anticipating challenges.

“You can also prepare for the ‘quit day’ by throwing away their cigarettes and ashtrays, choosing a smoke-free environment, and finding ways to distract yourself from smoking urges.”

Cigarettes in an ashtray
Cigarettes in an ashtray. Picture: iStock

You should also be patient and understanding with yourself, as quitting smoking is a process that may involve setbacks and relapses and requires perseverance and commitment.

5. Stay smoke-free and prevent relapse

After quitting smoking, seniors may face the risk of relapse, especially if they encounter triggers or stressors that can lead them to smoke again.

Avoid places, people, and situations that may tempt you to smoke and keep cigarettes and other tobacco products out of reach.

You should also be aware of different forms of tobacco, such as e-cigarettes, that may be marketed as safer or less addictive but can still contain nicotine and other harmful substances.

“Quitting smoking is a significant accomplishment that seniors can be proud of. They can reward themselves with non-food treats, such as a massage, a movie, or a trip, to celebrate their progress and motivate themselves to stay smoke-free.

“Seniors can also remind themselves of the benefits of quitting smoking, such as saving money, improving their health, and protecting their loved ones from secondhand smoke,” commented Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

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