It is certainly not news that smoking is hazardous to your health, yet many people find excuse after excuse to avoid quitting. A common excuse among those who have smoked for years or even decades is that their bodies are already so damaged from smoking that it would be pointless to even bother trying to quit at their age, but that could not be further from the truth. Though many seniors over the age of 65 believe that it may be too late to make lifestyle changes, quitting smoking is not only possible for older adults, but it may even be easier because they have greater experience in overcoming adversity. The longer a person smokes, the more they generally hate it, and very very few people regret quitting, though many wish they had never started. For seniors residing in a skilled nursing facility, smoking cessation support is available as a measure to improve many aspects of physical health as well as to improve the quality of life in later years.
Benefits Of Quitting Smoking For Older Adults
For 8.4% of adults over the age of 65 who are regular smokers, the benefits of quitting begin within 20 minutes of smoking their last cigarette. Even those who have already been diagnosed with smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer or emphysema see improved health outcomes. Consider these ways the quitting helps people of all ages live healthier lives:
Withdrawal Symptoms Get Better Fast
It takes about 3 days for the nicotine to leave your system entirely, and many people experience discomfort that includes headaches, grumpiness, fatigue, and cravings. It can seem unbearable, causing many people to reach for a cigarette for relief, but it takes only about a month for brain receptors to return to normal. Though the psychological urges can persist for months, a good long-term care physician or therapist can help uncover the reasons you smoked and help you find healthier alternatives.
Improved Lung Function
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can take many years to develop, even for frequent smokers. A persistent cough, shortness of breath, and low energy levels are telltale signs of COPD. Quitting smoking and receiving respiratory care from skilled nurses reduces these symptoms and slows down the development of COPD. The carbon monoxide levels in the lungs begin stabilizing almost immediately and cilia in the lungs starts regrowing. Within three months, your lung function could improve by almost 30%, leaving you able to complete most daily tasks without getting winded.
Better Cardiovascular Function
Smoking is a major factor in 6 of the leading 14 reasons for death, mostly due to cardiovascular damage. The top cause is coronary heart disease, which is caused by smoking more often than any other factor. Smoking cigarettes and vaping nicotine begin elevating your blood pressure almost immediately, but thankfully, it can start to reverse itself just as quickly, within about 24 hours of quitting.
Better Blood Circulation
Nicotine causes vascular restriction which affects nearly every organ in the body. Though many of the effects and damage cannot be undone, much of your bodily functions will improve in about 3 months time. This will improve the look of your skin and dramatically reduce your risk of a heart attack by 50% after the first post-smoking year alone.
Better Sense Of Smell And Taste
The chemicals in cigarette smoke reduce vascularity in the nose and tongue, making it more difficult to taste or smell things around you. Within 2 days of quitting smoking, these sensations will begin to return, allowing you to once again enjoy a more full sensory experience of the world.
Finding A Healthy Place To Live
The best way to live your healthiest life at any age is to quit smoking as soon as possible. On average, smoking takes 6 years of your life. Princeton Health Care Center is a tobacco-free long-term care facility so that our residents enjoy the highest quality of life possible.