Its hard to believe yet another year has passed us by already! As we reflect on the year behind us and look forward to the year ahead perhaps you are thinking of changes you wish to make in your life. As we move into January with National Non Smoking Week and Weedless Wednesday, now would be as good a time as any to quit smoking if you have considered this.
For many seniors they have been smoking their entire lives so the thought of quitting, although they know its necessary, is extremely daunting. The dangers of smoking were not as widely known when many took that first cigarette as it is today, in fact in the 50s it was glamorous and fashionable to smoke!
If you consider that there are over 4000 chemicals in each cigarette and that nicotine is a more addicting drug than heroin you might ask yourself why you are still smoking in the first place. Some smoke when they are stressed, others smoke when they are bored. Whatever your reason, it would be beneficial on so many levels to consider kicking that deadly habit to the curb.
Consider these facts:
Smoking depletes essential nutrients in the body, especially Vitamin C – it increases the risk of catching colds and slows down recovery time
Nicotine increases adrenalin which in turn increases blood pressure and heart rate, making the heart pump faster and work harder. It damages DNA and speeds up aging.
Smoking contributes to weakening of bones and bone diseases such as osteoporosis; it also affects the circulatory system which can lead to heart disease
The list goes on but the good news is its never too late to quit no matter what age you are!
The health benefits begin almost immediately within 24 hours after your last cigarette:
- Blood pressure & pulse returns to normal and within one week the sense of smell and taste improves.
- Breathing becomes easier and within 3 months the risk of heart attack becomes less and lung function improves.
- Saving money from not buying cigarettes as well as cheaper insurance rates is a huge benefit! – and for seniors on a fixed income this could greatly enrich their lives with extra savings each month.
- Improved health overall with more energy and better sleep.
- You could be a role model for friends or family members; if you can quit so can they!
Let’s not forget that while some seniors may not actually be smokers themselves, they may be exposed to second hand smoke from caregivers or other family members. Second hand smoke is just as dangerous as actually smoking! If you live with a smoker you can ask them to smoke outside as well as not smoking in the car if you are with them. Sometimes these requests are not easy to execute but you can find ways to cope by keeping windows open or using an air filter or removing yourself from the environment if at all possible.
Whether you are exposed to second hand smoke or are a first hand smoker you would do yourself a great service to:
- Take a good multi vitamin to replenish nutrients depleted from the toxins from smoke – (lung & throat cancer are linked to low levels of Vit B and beta carotene) ; make sure your diet consists of cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower (as these have cancer fighting properties).
- Consume good sources of protein like chicken, fish, beef, beans, lentils as they help to repair cells. Add dark and brightly colored fruits and vegetables as they are high in antioxidants which is essential to fight off free radicals created by toxins.
- Be sure to get 30 mins of exercise every day to keep the circulatory system moving. This can be as simple as walking at the mall or around the block.
There are several good resources to help you through this journey, speak to your health care practitioner or Seniors centre.
Remember the saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try again!”