Smoking can be a difficult habit to break, even if you are trying to quit smoking to save your life. This is particularly true if you’re not just smoking cigarettes but are also smoking cigars or pipe tobacco. The smell and the taste of the smoke can be tough to stop, even when you know it’s hurting your body. Here are several tips to help elderly loved ones avoid smoking.
Stay Away from Triggers
Whether your loved one had a cigarette with his morning coffee or after dinner, smoking triggers can be hard to avoid. Instead of trying to eliminate all possible triggers, it’s best if you can minimize how much they affect you. For example, as tempting as it may be, don’t smoke along with someone else during a tense family gathering or over a drink at happy hour; being around smokers when you aren’t smoking is one of the biggest triggers for those trying to quit.
Engage in Hobbies
Once you’ve taken care of any medical conditions that might be contributing to your addiction, you can address boredom. Many people live in isolated areas, which means they don’t get many opportunities for socialization. The isolation can lead them to return to old habits of smoking as a way of bonding with friends and family or relieving stress. Engaging in hobbies you enjoy is a perfect way to keep your mind off smoking and makes it easier to stay away from tobacco. When smoking enters your thoughts, focus on a hobby instead. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it fades into irrelevance. Don’t dismiss distracting yourself as less important than an entire cigarette ban because that would be missing the point: quitting is primarily about changing behavior, not necessarily stopping one form of behavior completely.
Carry a Snack
Carrying a snack can be helpful. It is better for your waistline, but it also gives you something to do with your hands and distracts you from your nicotine cravings. Something as simple as a piece of fruit (bananas, apples, clementines) or nuts (walnuts or almonds) can do the trick. Try cheese, crackers, hummus, or peanut butter on whole-grain crackers for a more substantial snack (that will keep hunger at bay longer). Just be sure to avoid anything too processed like chips or granola bars since they pack a lot of fat and calories. And just because it’s packaged doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
Surround Yourself with Support
If you have an elderly loved one that smokes, it’s important to surround them with support. Joining a retirement community is an excellent idea because most of these communities are filled with other people that have quit smoking and could be valuable allies in your fight against cigarettes. They will give you support, but they’ll also take a hands-off approach when it comes to managing your schedule. They can even help put together healthy activities for you, like billiards or exercising at a gym.
Get Through It One Day at a Time
Even if you have a whole month, week, or day in mind, it’s important not to think too far ahead. It’s better to think one day at a time. The reason is simple: It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up when you can see that your quit smoking goal is still so far away. If you keep your focus on what to do today (like quitting for today), it becomes a lot easier. We know how hard it can be—especially when withdrawal symptoms kick in—but one day at a time is best. If things get tough, don’t be afraid to ask for help!