Giving up cigarettes is challenging at any age, and some seniors feels as though it’s too late for them simply because they’ve been smoking for so long. If you or your senior loved one are trying to quit smoking, use the following strategies to stay on track.
1. Identify smoking triggers.
A trigger is an action that prompts you to want a cigarette. Triggers vary among individuals. A trigger could be:
- the aroma of coffee
- finishing a meal
- social events
The senior care professionals at Home Care Assistance of Nashville recommend jotting down your triggers in a smoking diary. Once you’re fully aware of what prompts you to smoke, you can consciously choose an alternate activity. Having other options will protect you from going on autopilot.
2. Choose alternative activities.
For example, if the aroma of coffee is a trigger, consider switching to another beverage, such as tea or juice.
If ending a meal prompts the urge to light up, substitute gum for a cigarette. You can also distract yourself with an enjoyable activity. Occupy your hands with something fun such as a crossword puzzle, knitting, reading, playing cards, or painting your fingernails.
When stress strikes, have some calming aids at the ready. You might try:
- Aromatherapy – the scents of jasmine, lavender, and sandalwood are soothing.
- Deep breathing – slow, deep breaths calm the nervous system.
- Exercise – invigorating activity spurs the release of stress-relieving hormones.
- Prayer – calling on the help of God reduces anxiety.
3. Use Positive Affirmations
Here are thoughts that will strengthen you when considered or spoken aloud:
- Remind yourself of why you want to quit.
“I’m doing this to feel and look better.”
- Identify what’s causing a trigger, and distract yourself from it.
“I’m just feeling stressed. I’ll put on that TV program I love.”
- Recall how you got through previous urges. Use the same game plan.
“Last time I felt this, I took out my knitting. It helped me beat that craving. I can overcome this one too.”
- Take stock of how long you’ve been smoke-free.
“I’ve made it through two days of not smoking. I’m not stopping now.”
- Consider how much your health has improved since quitting.
“I’m not coughing like I did before. I don’t get as winded. I don’t want to go back to feeling lousy.”
Throw out all cigarettes, lighters, matches, and ashtrays. Removing props that could tempt you will facilitate quitting. It can also help to clean bedding, upholstery, and the car to remove the odor of cigarettes. Even the smell can trigger the urge to light up.
Manage Oral Urges
Urges typically only last 3-5 minutes. When the impulse to smoke arises, substitute a cigarette with a healthy alternative. The following foods are proven to ward off cravings:
- Grains – oats, millet, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta
- Vegetables – beet greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, corn
- Dried fruit – raisins, figs
- Nuts and seeds – almonds, sunflower seeds
Research shows that quitting late in life, even after age 65, greatly reduces the risks of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. So don’t let age dissuade you. You can quit smoking. Embark on the path to being smoke-free today!
Quitting smoking is difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you or your senior loved one could use added emotional support or help making healthier decisions, turn to Home Care Assistance of Nashville. We offer live-in and hourly senior care, and our friendly caregivers in Nashville can provide the additional support you or your loved one needs to kick the bad habit to the curb. For more information, give us a call at (615) 656-4999 and speak with an experienced Care Manager.