A lot of seniors and elders seem to believe that there is no point -- the damage is already done. But the truth is, there are numerous life-changing benefits of smoking cessation and although a challenging habit to break, it’s never too late to reap the benefits.
What Happens When You Smoke
Not only does kicking the habit save you money, it saves your health- almost immediately. Smoking shortens your life, and actually accounts for 1 in 5 deaths in the US each year because it causes things like:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory infections like pneumonia
- Osteoporosis Lung disease
- Various eye diseases
The reason it’s so hard to quit smoking is due to a chemical called nicotine: it’s what hooks you, why you get addicted, and experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting. But after 72 hours of no smoking, your body is nicotine free.
Other symptoms that often occur a few weeks after cessation include, mood swings, increase in hunger, and lack of energy. Sometimes, one may experience headaches, have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and may feel depressed.
But the good news is, these symptoms don’t last.
Quitting & Benefits
The first step toward solving a problem or breaking a habit is first admitting and accepting that this is your reality, and then committing to making a change.
No matter how old you are, the health benefits you gain from putting down the cigarette are worth it.
- Improved breathing: After 48 hours of smoking cessation, your lungs begin to clear out. Then, after 4 days, you will notice that it’s easier to breathe in general.
- Better lung, heart, and circulatory functioning: the general and overall functions that are vital to your well-being will start to function better. For example, you lower your odds of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. The longer you stay away from smoking, the more you benefit.
- Decreased cancer risk: While 80-90% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking, smokers are also at higher risk to develop other types of cancer such as colon, esophagus, and throat cancers. Quitting will significantly lower your risk of developing these cancers.
More Help With Quitting
Breaking the smoking addiction is not easy, but there are plenty of resources to help make it easier.
One of them is a website created by the National Cancer Institute: https://smokefree.gov/. They also have a hotline number you can call 1-877-448-7848 (1-877-44U-QUIT).
Here are some other examples of tools or mechanisms that may help you in your journey:
- Talk with your doctor
- Make a plan for dealing with urges
- Read self-help information
- Ask a friend or family member for help/support
- Take medicine to help with nicotine withdrawal
- Go to individual or group counseling
Remember, this is an addiction, it’s not an easy thing to just go cold turkey. Success can still be achieved after failure. Keep going!