Smoking cigarettes can have many harmful effects on our bodies. The health risks associated with cigarette consumption are even worse for older adults. Recent findings from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicate that cigarette smoking is associated with poorer cognitive performance among people 60 years and older. This association is broadly the same whether or not individuals have hypertension or diabetes. As a result, researchers recommend promoting smoking cessation to preserve cognitive health among older adults. In this post, we’ll look at how you can help your parents stop smoking to take better care of their health:
Help avoid triggers
One of the reasons smokers find it difficult to quit is that they are often confronted by triggers that make them want to smoke. A feature on smoking triggers from Quit and Stay Quit Monday categorize smoking triggers into four types: emotional, pattern, social, and withdrawal. You must identify these triggers to help your parents quit. Work on reducing emotional triggers such as stress and anxiety, and prevent exposure to withdrawal triggers such as smelling cigarette smoke or handling lighters. For social triggers such as being around peers or family members who smoke, you can help by letting your parents’ friends know about their quitting plan. This will reduce the likelihood of your parents getting triggered to smoke during family gatherings or dinners. Of course, it’s best not to ban your parents from socializing entirely. For older adults, loneliness is pervasive and may lead to health risks. Our past post on “How You Can Combat the Health Risks of Loneliness” compares the risks from loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes or drinking six alcoholic beverages daily, so encourage meetups in trigger-free spaces.
Smoking negatively impacts both a person’s health and their ability to do physical activity. Cigarette smoking is associated with hindering proper breathing and affecting lung capacity. At the same time, physical activity has also been linked to smoking cessation, providing distraction and helping the body recover from the adverse effects of cigarette smoking. Encourage regular physical exercise for your smoking parent, and try to act as an accountability partner by offering to exercise together. You can start with low-impact exercises that can be done at home or go on weekly walks to encourage physical activity. Being with your parents while they engage in physical activity will also ensure they don’t accidentally expose themselves to smoking triggers, like smelling cigarette smoke while jogging outside or seeing cigarettes sold at the grocery.
Introduce your parents to NRT products
Pharmacotherapy solutions such as varenicline and bupropion have been found to help smoking cessation. Aside from medication, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine pouches have been popular methods for quitting by providing nicotine without the harmful effects of tobacco. The smoke-free ZYN spearmint pouches contain no tobacco content. Instead, each pouch is filled with pharmaceutical-grade nicotine salt, sweeteners, flavorings, and pH balancers. Nicotine pouches are also easy to travel with, so your parents can have them wherever they go. Other NRT products can be combined with therapy approaches, such as Nicorette gums and lozenges with music therapy to help your parents gradually reduce exposure to nicotine while regulating breathing, mood, and heart rate.
Ultimately, quitting smoking can be an arduous journey for older parents. Being there to support them throughout and help keep them away from triggers will allow them to quit more successfully. Additionally, encouraging physical exercise can help maintain their health and potentially reverse the negative effects of smoking while serving as a good excuse for you to spend quality time together. Finally, medication and NRT products are popular and on the market for a reason. While your parents can benefit from your support, these science-backed quitting methods can help ensure they don’t return to the habit.
Mellisa Carlson has been freelance writing and blogging for four years. She is interested in topics such as science and technology and how constant innovations in the two fields affect our daily lives. Mellisa also enjoys watercolor painting when she’s not too busy writing and reading.