October 19, 2011
Don’t give up the battle to quit smoking, seniors. Nearly every study shows that for each day of continuous smoke-free living, you will live longer no matter how long you have smoked.
Q. My 70-year-old mother has increased her cigarette smoking considerably since my dad died. She keeps telling me it’s too hard to quit and that she’s smoked so long it doesn’t matter anyway. Do you have any suggestions how I could help convince her otherwise?
Here’s some ammunition for your argument to help convince your mother that it’s not only possible, but in her best interests to quit smoking. Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that elderly women are more likely to quit smoking than are elderly men, while results are just the opposite for studies among younger populations.
What’s more, the rate of recidivism (resuming smoking) was only 16 percent among the elderly smokers who quit, whereas previous studies report relapse rates of 35 to 45 percent, according to the head researcher of the study, Dr. Heather E. Whitson.
In an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study of thousands of women smokers revealed that when they stopped smoking, their risk of death from any disease began to decline. Within five years of quitting, research revealed that women will significantly reduce their risk of dying from heart disease and will reduce their risk of death from smoking-related cancers by 20 percent. The researchers found a 13 percent reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality within the first five years of quitting smoking, compared with continuing to smoke.
A more rapid decline in risk after quitting smoking compared with continuing to smoke was observed in the first five years for vascular diseases compared with other causes, according to Harvard School of Public Health research.
It’s true that the younger an individual quits smoking, the greater the benefit. Still, research released from Duke University confirms that quitting smoking at any age does make a difference, even if you’ve smoked for half a century.
The study suggests that male smokers who quit at age 65 increase their life span by 1.4 to 2 years, and women smokers by 2.7 to 3.7 years. For men, that means a typical increase in life span from 69 to 71 years; for women, from 74 to 77.
Perhaps this information can impress upon your mother the value and benefits of quitting smoking later in life. It sounds as though developing more interests could certainly make a difference in her life as well.
A senior center or church group could provide your mom with the companionship that she’s lacking. If groups are not her thing, why not suggest a companion who could not only help her around the house, but accompany her to lunch and other activities. The local Home Instead Senior Care® hires CAREGiversSM who can meet these sorts of needs. Companionship may be just what your mom needs to help her kick the habit.
For more information about the study, visit
http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/24479/36146/725242.html?d=dmtContent and http://medicineworld.org/cancer/lead/3-2006/why-older-people-quit-smoking.html
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