Your parent has probably been smoking for quite some time. The thought of quitting has undoubtedly crossed their minds and several unsuccessful attempts have been made. They know the consequences of smoking, but just don’t think that they have what it takes to get through the withdrawal period and make it to the other side. Fortunately, you, as a family caregiver, are in a great position to help them get over the hump and make this attempt their final and successful one to living a smoke-free life.
Knowing the diseases that are linked to smoking can often help motivate someone. These include cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart attack, stroke, cataracts, and many other diseases. Key physiological changes occur shortly after quitting. According to the National Institute of Health, these changes occur as soon as one quits:
- Heart rate drops to normal 20 minutes after quitting
- Carbon monoxide levels return to normal 12 hours after quitting
- Heart attack risk starts to drop and lung function improves 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
In addition to these changes, one’s energy increases dramatically and the quality of one’s sleep also improves.
Helping your Loved One Quit
A government-sponsored website–Smokefree 60+–is designed with seniors in mind and contains a wealth of information for both caregivers and those ready to quit smoking. An online plan of attack is available as well as recommendations for exercise, healthy eating, handling depression and recommended lifestyle changes. Tools and medications are recommended when dealing with withdrawal symptoms. In addition, they offer online support, including a quitline and online counselors.
A family caregiver plays a key role in helping their parents quit. Suggestions include the following:
- Keep items in their home that can act as a substitute. This may include celery and carrots with dip, hard sugar-free candies, and gum.
- Find ways to keep them busy and active so that their mind wanders less to what they are
missing and more to what they are enjoying.
- Celebrate their milestones.
- Keep them out of environments where others are smoking and let anyone know that comes to visit them that smoking is not allowed.
- Maintain a positive attitude even if they stumble.
- Make an appointment with their primary health care provider if the withdrawal stage proves too difficult to navigate. Patches or other medicinal support may be warranted.
Home Care Provider
If you feel that your loved one could use more support than you and your family can presently provide, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider. They can help distract your parent—keeping them active and engaged—as well as prepare healthy meals and accompany them on daily walks. Before you know it, your parent will be living a smoke-free life and enjoying the many benefits.