Judy is a 78-year-old lady and she has been smoking for more than half a century. Recently, she has noticed that her son has quit smoking so she asked how he felt without tobacco.
Expecting a negative answer, her son told her that he felt much different than before, in a good way.
“it was hard in the first month, but if you get used to life without cigarettes,” he said. “Your body feels so much better, and my singing has improved, too!”
Judy clearly knew that good things would happen if she quit smoking cold turkey, but it’d be a little annoying since she just couldn’t imagine what she would do if she were not smoking. Also, she wondered if she was too old to do so. Since she was already 78, it seemed a bit unnecessary to quit at her age.
Is It Too Late to Quit Smoking?
We always hear people saying things like:
“I have smoked for many years. It’s hard to quit.”
“The damage has already been done anyway.”
“I’m already old, why shouldn’t I enjoy cigarettes for the last few years in my life?”
However, the truth is, you can still quit in old age, and things would still be different. There are some immediate results after quitting smoking:
Short Term Effect
20 Minutes After Quitting: Your blood pressure and pulse rate drop.
8 Hours After Quitting: Carbon monoxide levels decrease and the oxygen level in your blood returns to normal.
1 Day After Quitting: The chances of having a heart attack decreases.
2 Days After Quitting: Your sense of smell and taste begin to improve.
2 Weeks To 3 Months After Quitting: Your circulation and lung function improves.
6 Months To 1 Year After Quitting: Symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, and fatigue is reduced. Your immune system improves, and your lungs start to regain normal function.
On the other hand, the benefits of quitting smoking are more prominent in the long run.
Long Term Effects
1 To 2 Years After Quitting: Chances of heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and breathing problems decrease.
5 To 10 Years After Quitting: Your risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat would be cut in half.
10 Years After Quitting: Your risk of lung cancer is cut in half compared to a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer in the bladder, esophagus, and kidney will also decrease drastically.
15 Years After Quitting: Your risk of developing coronary heart disease is similar to that of a non-smoker. Also, your longevity is extended by 10 years.
How to Quit Smoking as a Senior
Easier said than done; quitting smoking can sometimes be a long and tough battle for most people, especially for individuals who have been smoking for decades. However, you can split it into three stages so that you can make your journey easier and wiser.
Step One: Prepare to Quit
First off, list all the reasons that make you want to quit, and the possible elements that trigger it. Be specific and look at them frequently. Then, envision your life without cigarettes. Imagine yourself as a non-smoker, and see how you deal with various social situations that may trigger you to start smoking again.
You can also tell your family and friends about your decision and let them motivate you through the process. It is also helpful to tell your doctor and plan it together.
Then, set a date, and get started!
Step Two: The Quitting Process
On the quitting day, throw out all of your cigarette and ashtrays, and anything else that can remind you of smoking. The point is that quitting all at once is always better than slowly cutting back. Then, after you realize the circumstances that made you want to smoke, fill them up with other things. For example, if you smoke when you don’t feel like sleeping, try playing a video game to keep your hands busy. Make a list of things you can do as alternatives to smoking, and whenever you are craving a cigarette, do these things one by one to take up your time.
Finding a support buddy is also helpful; it’s good to have someone that was successful at quitting smoking. They will know how to help you out when you are going through similar situations that they have been through. You can also set aside the money you would spend on tobacco, watch it grow in a jar, and reward yourself with this money after a while.
Step 3: Preventing Relapse
Relapse may happen, even for the people who have quit smoking for years. The most important thing to know about relapsing is that you learn each time so you can handle it better the next time. When you realize you are about to smoke again, there are 4Ds to prevent it:
Delay: No matter whether you are quitting smoking or stopping binge-eating, remember that the urge only lasts for a short while. Delay what you want to do for 10 minutes. In most cases, your craving will go away after a few minutes on its own.
Deep Breaths: Take a deep breath before the “evil” possesses you. It will make you relaxed and clear-minded so you can make a better choice on what to do next.
Drink Water: Drinking water also helps you to relax and calm down and help you to focus on things that are healthier.
Do Something Else: As we mentioned, distracting yourself from smoking is necessary. List what you can do instead of smoking: sometimes even washing your hands and face can help, too.
Some Withdrawal Symptoms You Should be Aware Of & What To Do About Them
Craving & Urges
It’s normal to have urges, and sometimes they can be strong and overwhelming. One important way to deal with your urges is to identify them, which means knowing that you are in a state of craving, and it doesn’t mean you “need” it immediately. Try the 4Ds prevention methodology to see how it works!
Getting Easily Irritated
Quitting a habit may feel like taking a part of your routine away, so it is very common to feel irritated and grouchy sometimes. Again, notice it, identify it, and let it go.
Feeling agitated and having a hard time concentrating is the same as feeling irritated. It is because your body is not used to getting not recieving the nicotine it used to. The best way to deal with restlessness is to do some physical activities, and cut back on caffeine, too.
Some people may experience a rise in appetite when they quit smoking. This is because of the stress of quitting a habit, and your taste has heightened after quitting, too. If you really want snacks, snack smart. Avoid those high-calorie foods and getting more exercise will help you to balance the urges as well.
Feeling Anxious and Depressed
People who smoke are more likely to have mood swings than people who don’t, and it happens mostly after quitting smoking. Nicotine does help to ease your anxiety for a short amount of time, but the withdrawal effect makes it worse. Remind yourself of why you are quitting, and learn how to deal with emotions in a new and healthier way. It will all pass in the end.