Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. For some older individuals, it may feel like it’s too late to stop, but there is always time to quit.
Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. The issue leads to the death of almost 480,000 people each year. This means that almost one in every five deaths that happen in the United States is caused by cigarettes
The amount of people who smoke has been improving over the years. In fact, from 2005 to 2016, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke dropped from nearly 21 percent to 14 percent. However, the numbers are still alarming. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 24.2 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes and more than 16 million live with a smoking-related disease.
While the people who smoke generally tend to be middle-aged, there are still quite a few seniors who smoke. About 8 out of every 100 adults aged 65 and older smoke cigarettes. While some people may think that it’s too late in their life for them to put the cigarettes down, it is never too late to stop. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting smoking at any time will work to improve your health. After quitting you are likely to add years to year life, save money, have more energy, and have an overall better quality of life.
Seniors And Smoking
Smoking shortens your life, this is no secret. Smoking leads to a number of health problems and deaths each year. Smoking makes millions of people sick each year and causes a number of different ailments, such as:
- Lung disease – Smoking causes serious damage to the organs in the body, especially the lungs and airways. It can cause problems such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, both of these will make it much harder to breathe and can destroy the lungs.
- Cancer – Smoking leads to a number of different types of cancer such as cancer in the lungs, mouth, voice box, throat, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and more.
- Respiratory Problems – If you smoke, it is more likely that you will deal with problems related to breathing. It puts you at a higher risk for problems like the flu, pneumonia, or other infections that can interfere with the respiratory system.
- Osteoporosis – There is a link between bone density and smoking. If you smoke your chance of developing problems related to the bones, such as osteoporosis is much higher.
- Eye Disease – Smoking increases the risk of certain eye diseases such as vision loss and blindness, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Diabetes – Smoking is one thing that can increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, smoking makes it harder to control diabetes once you have it. The disease is serious and can lead to additional problems such as blindness, heart disease, nerve disease, kidney failure, and other issues.
The problem for seniors is that if one of these issues takes hold it can lead to disastrous and even life-threatening consequences. For example, while the flu is not necessarily a major health risk for younger individuals, if an older person catches the flu, it can lead to many issues due to their weakened immune system.
It is also important to note that smoking can be harmful not only to you but others around you through secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke created by cigarettes or other smoking devices also causes serious health issues for family, friends, and even pets. The problem can be especially dangerous for people who already struggle with issues like heart disease or lung cancer.
How To Quit
For many, the most important first step to quitting smoking is to make a firm and clear decision that you will quit and pick a definite date to stop. You should realize that when you stop smoking, you will deal with triggers that will urge to smoke again. To quit effectively, it is best that you prepare for these situations and come up with coping strategies to deal with these cravings. (See also: How Exercise Helps You To Quit Smoking)
For some, nicotine replacement products can come in handy and help smokers quit. Whether you are using gum, patches, lozenges, or something else, these types of alternatives can be helpful for those who are having trouble with the cravings associated with stopping smoking. Other drugs are also available to help with some withdrawal symptoms, you can speak with a doctor about which medicines may be best for you.
If you are able to quit, the good thing is that you will almost immediately feel the positive benefits and start to reap the rewards. For example, even quitting in your 60s, 70s, and beyond will lead to:
- Heart rate and blood pressure dropping to normal levels
- Better functioning of the blood circulatory system
- Less coughing
- Lower chance of heart attack and stroke
- Improved breathing
- Lower chance of cancer and other illnesses
Quitting can be hard, but there are a number of resources available to you to help you deal with the withdrawal problems and the lack of motivation to quit. For example, the National Cancer Institute and SmokeFree both have online resources where you can get the help you need.
About The Author:
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer at Landmark Senior Living, a series of top-rated Assisted Living Facilities in the midwestern United States. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years and graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude. Guided by a relentless pursuit of excellence, Matthew and the team at Landmark are dedicated to creating a supportive environment for the elderly.