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World No Tobacco Day 2023: Ways To Quit Smoking For Older Adults

World No Tobacco Day 2023: With age, your body becomes more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of smoking.

World No Tobacco Day 2023: Ways To Quit Smoking For Older Adults

World No Tobacco Day: Quitting smoking is easier when you have support from your family & friends

World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31st every year. It's a day that reminds us of the harm tobacco causes to our health and encourages people to quit tobacco use. Although, this is a challenging habit to break, especially for older individuals who have been smoking for decades. According to a study published the JAMA journal, more than 25% of people aged 65 or older use some form of tobacco. Another research published in Indian Journal of Psychiatry, there has been a sharp rise from 27.8% in the age group of 60-64 years to 51.8% in the age group of 75 years or older in India. Hence, we can understand its immense significance for elderly individuals, as it can dramatically affect their overall health and quality of life.

With age, our body becomes more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of smoking. Symptoms like irritability, anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating are common in this population. There are multiple co-morbidities associated, such as risks of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and respiratory ailments that can escalate significantly for seniors who continue to smoke. By adopting a tobacco-free lifestyle, elderly people can experience remarkable benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, enhanced lung function, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and increased energy levels. Moreover, quitting tobacco can bolster the immune system, strengthening the defense against infections and illnesses. Additionally, breaking free from tobacco addiction sets a positive example for younger generations and helps seniors reclaim their independence, enabling them to savor their golden years to the fullest.

Here are some tips to quit smoking

Avoid triggers and seek professional help through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Avoiding triggers can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Triggers can include certain people, places, or situations that make cravings more intense. Elderly individuals should identify their triggers and create a plan to avoid them.

Many pieces of research showcased that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy effectively empowers seniors to quit tobacco. This talk therapy focuses on the cognitive and behavioural aspects of addiction and is usually provided by psychologists and de-addiction specialists. This can contribute immensely to helping people change negative thought patterns and behaviour contributing to smoking.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): This can help ease withdrawal symptoms by delivering nicotine to the body without the harmful toxins found in cigarettes. It involves replacing cigarettes or other smokeless tobacco ingredients with another safer nicotine option in the form of patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers, or nasal sprays. This powerful therapy can help reduce the cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms to quit smoking ultimately. However, consulting with a healthcare provider is best before starting this therapy. They can recommend the best type of NRT based on an individual's medical history and tobacco consumption patterns

Importance of healthy diet, exercise, meditation, & rest is non-negotiable: Exercise releases hormones called endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and help increase energy levels. It can distract from the urge to smoke and reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, meditation helps to improve focus and decrease anxiety levels. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can significantly reduce cigarette cravings and enhance quit rates. There are a variety of meditations, including mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, and transcendental meditation, that can be adopted through professional's guidance.

It is also important to take help from a healthcare provider for a well-tailored diet plan for the elderly, considering their individual needs and medical history. Moreover, withdrawal symptoms can disrupt sleep patterns, making it harder to get a good night's sleep. Elderly people should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night

Join support groups: Quitting smoking is much easier when you have support from your family, friends, or healthcare professionals. Elderly individuals can join support groups for smokers or seek help from a healthcare professional to create a personalized plan for quitting smoking. Having an understanding person to talk to can also help ease the anxiety and stress of giving up the vice. Take it one day at a time and celebrate small victories along the way

Seniors should consult their healthcare providers before starting any of these methods to ensure they are safe. Together we can empower seniors to quit tobacco, improve their health, and lead a healthy lifestyle. On this World No Tobacco Day, let's pledge to make the world healthier by empowering seniors to quit smoking.

(Dr. Amit Garg, Consultant Psychiatrist, Felicity Mind Care Clinic, Delhi)

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