Community Blog

Smoking is a Hard Habit to Break for Seniors

By Debbie Humphrey

I have a friend, a care-giving colleague, whose Mom developed some very serious cardiovascular issues over the summer. In actuality, the issues started a few years ago, but manifested in a very scary way in June.

The 72 year-old mother of three and “Grams” to seven, has smoked since the age of thirteen and has been using inhalers for COPD, (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease aka Emphysema), for a number of years. She is now suffering with a seemingly rare “ulcerative plaque in the aorta,”along with vascular blockages in her chest, which, fortunately-or unfortunately, were not bad enough for stents. As it happens, the blockages Grams has are worse in her lower extremities, which isn’t surprising considering her slower, more labored gait.

No matter where the vascular issues stem, this hardworking, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and talented baker, is experiencing immense pressure in her chest, impacting her ability to breathe, talk and continue with her normal activities of daily living. She is definitely a prime candidate to become one of many seniors battling lung cancer.

This incredibly sweet lady has tried various cessation methods to quit smoking, but she has never been able to overcome the craving for cigarettes enough to actually quit the habit. Gum and patches didn’t work. However, she did discover she smoked fewer cigarettes after she started taking the prescription medication, Chantix.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am in no way endorsing or refuting any smoking cessation method, product, or prescription. Everyone and every situation is different. However, I feel compelled to recognize Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the upcoming, Great American Smoke-Out, because, no matter how you do it, stopping smoking improves quality of life, and can significantly reduce the risk of lung cancer!

According to the American Cancer Society, “Today, about 1-in-5 US adults smoke cigarettes. Excluding secondhand smoke, smoking is estimated to cause 32% of all cancer deaths in the US, including 83% of lung cancer deaths in men and 76% of lung cancer deaths in women.”

This is so important to seniors because in 2013, 80% of lung cancer diagnoses were of people aged 60 or older. Depending upon age, activity levels and other contributing factors, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may, or may not, be physician recommended options.

Chances are you know someone addicted to nicotine. If you know a senior who still smokes, even after having been diagnosed with COPD/Emphysema, or lung cancer, gently encourage them to call the Florida QuitLine, visit the Tobacco Free Florida website, talk to their doctor, and explore methods to kick the habit for The Great American Smoke-Out, Nov 16th. Like Chantix is helping Grams reduce her smoking, that or another method, could be the answer to help other seniors “butt-out” for the Smoke-Out!

If I can provide resources to help, please contact me. I am happy to offer a FREE in-home consultation to discuss specific needs and ways our caregivers can assist and support seniors with COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Home Helpers® proudly serves male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Contact me today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® We are Making Life Easier℠ 727.972.2539

Source: American Cancer Society