Older adults suffer a large proportion of health consequences from smoking and could benefit from cessation.
Why is it important?
Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disease and fractures (6)
Smoking is the leading cause of premature death (5)
Rate of bone-density decline in older adults is accelerated by smoking (4)
Female smokers are at greater risk of post-menopausal osteoporosis (4)
Smoking cessation later in life adds years to life and also improves quality of life (1) (2)
Stress of unemployment, homelessness, personal problems, financial strain, or physical/verbal abuse (8)
Addiction to alcohol, cocaine, or heroin can make one vulnerable to smoking (8)
Older smokers are less likely to believe smoking harms health or cessation offers benefits at advanced age (1)
Talk to your physician about current smoking status: amount smoked, previous experience with quitting, other influential factors (e.g. addictions/medications/psychiatric problems), current interest in quitting, and any concerns (3)
Take advantage of alternative treatments such as counseling, group therapy, community smoking cessation programs- ask your family health team for information
Discuss strategies with health care staff to help manage stress, avoid weight gain, deal with setbacks (7)
Get involved in the plan to quit smoking and identify areas in which you will need help: choose a quit date, decide on a quit method, know your triggers, conquer cravings, manage withdrawal, build social supports, and control/maintain a “smoke-free” environment (7)
Friends and family can help by asking what they can do, being understanding and available, avoiding nagging, and celebrating success (7)
Those ready to quit can get support- QuitNow provides online forums and resources for caregivers/family members (7) (http://www.quitnow.ca/)
1. Brenner, H ,Gellert, C., Holleczek, B., Müller, H. & Schöttker, B. (2013). Impact of smoking and quitting on cardiovascular outcomes and risk advancement periods among older adults. European Journal of Epidemiology, 28(8), 649-658. Retrieved Feb. 2014 from: http://www.citeulike.org/user/denraymachin/article/12629715
2. Health Canada. (2002). Healthy Aging: Tobacco Use and Smoking Cessation Among Seniors.
As people age, they naturally become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Older adults are not able to absorb alcohol at the rate they once did which causes the alcohol to stay in their bodies longer. An older adult drinking the same amount as a younger adult will have a higher percentage of alcohol in their body.(4) The combination of these effects lowers the body’s tolerance for alcohol.
Why is it important?
An older adult can develop alcohol-related problems even when drinking habits remained the same (4)
Heavy drinking can damage the liver, heart, brain, muscle and bone
Heavy drinking can increase risk of cancers and immune disorders (4)
Drinking can make existing health conditions worse: diabetes, memory problems, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, mood disorders and osteoporosis (4)
Major life changes (e.g. death of a loved one, moving to a new home, failing health, poverty) can cause loneliness,boredom, anxiety, or depression (3)
Older adults faced with large amounts of free time after retirement may turn to alcohol (5)
Read labels on all medications and follow the directions as some medication labels warn not to drink alcohol when taking medicine; ask your health care provider or pharmacist whether it's okay to drink alcohol while taking a specific medicine (4)
Discuss concerns with health care provider; ask for referral to support group or counseling service
Set limits for yourself, eat before and while drinking, always consider your age, weight and health problems
Older adults should never exceed Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: 2 drinks per day or 10 drinks per week for women; 3 drinks per day or 15 drinks per week for men (2)
Although drinking may provide health benefits for certain people, it is not recommended to start drinking to increase health benefits (1)