Q: I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking cigarettes. I’m worried after 45 years the benefit won’t be as great and it will be more difficult for me to stop. How can I get started?
Answer: One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions today is to quit smoking, but for many the idea seems daunting, if not impossible — especially for those that have kept the habit for most of their adult life. Quitting smoking, no matter your age, is difficult. Nicotine is addictive, and quitting may cause withdrawal symptoms such as depression, hunger, sleep and concentration problems. It’s important to make a plan and seek help from your doctor when considering possible medications to combat these symptoms.
Even if you have been a smoker for decades, you are likely to realize health and wellness benefits from keeping your resolution. Most commonly, people who stop smoking experience an improvement in breathing, blood circulation and their sense of taste and smell. The risk of developing lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart attack also decreases as you kick the habit.
Don’t let your age discourage you. In fact, there is a resource dedicated specifically to helping older adults transition to life without cigarettes. Experts suggest that making the decision to quit starts with picking a “quit-date” 30-45 days in the future, and keeping a record of your smoking habits leading up to that date. During this period, try to delay your smoking times or find alternatives like drinking water, chewing gum or socializing. To explore more options for smoking cessation, consult your physician. Other national resources include:
- The National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline, 1-877-448-7848 (1-877-44U-QUIT)
- North Carolina Quitline, 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW)
- Veterans Smoking Quitline, 1-855-784-8838 (1-855-QUITVET)
Q: My mom recently moved into a facility for rehabilitation and I’m having a hard time defining my role in her care while she is there. What advice do you have for navigating the transition?
Answer: It is natural and necessary as a family caregiver that you ensure your loved one’s personal needs are being met, even beyond their physical care, when a loved one moves into some type of assisted living or skilled nursing facility for any period of time. It can be hard to achieve the right balance between letting the staff help your loved one adjust and being there to reassure them. Maintaining realistic expectations and a positive attitude will help you be the best support and advocate possible for your loved one.
Understanding the job duties and responsibilities of facility staff may help you better define exactly what your role and tasks should be. This is especially true for seniors who are not able to participate in their own care for any reason. Being an advocate for your family member often means doing small tasks that the nurses or aides could not easily do during their time with your loved one, but actually contribute to making the overall care the staff provides more meaningful and effective.
Some family members find that spending part of their day helping out in the building, volunteering in the kitchen, or even visiting with other residents, may allow them to remain close by but out from underfoot of the staff. If you do have questions or concerns about your loved one’s care address them head on with the appropriate staff.