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Caring for Someone Who Smokes

November 17th is the American Cancer Society’s 36th annual Great American Smoke Out. Over a quarter of a century ago, this day was established to bring awareness to the public arena on the negative effects of tobacco use, the challenges to quit smoking, and to change the public’s attitude towards smoking. Caring for someone who chooses to smoke can be difficult for you and a detriment to their health as well as your own. While SYNERGY Home Care does not condone the use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes or chewing tobacco, we are here to offer a variety of tips and suggestions to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

Talking About Smoking

You can’t stop another person from smoking; that decision is entirely their own. This does not mean that you cannot discuss with your loved one your concerns with how smoking affects their health and the health of all those around them. How you decide to talk to them is up to the personality of your loved one and your relationship with them.

Here are a few ways you can broach and discuss the topic. For additional ideas, check out DoSomething.org.

  • Using honesty and sincerity
  • Humor
  • Stating the facts on the effects of smoking
  • Do not broach the subject of quitting. Allow them to do that on their own. If they do mention it, allow them to just talk while you listen and offer support.

If they decide to quit, here’s what you can do:

  • Be supportive and stay positive. Smoking is an addiction, they will relapse. By pointing out how long they went without smoking helps them to see where they went right and not where they went wrong.
  • Decrease Stressors. Most people smoke because they are bored, stressed, or out of habit— To help with this, create new patterns like going for a walk after their meal or playing a board game. Help them with the tasks and situations that cause the most stress or negative emotions in their lives. Help them abstain from alcohol. (Negative and stressful emotions, alcohol, and being around other smokers increase the likelihood that your ex-smoker will go back to smoking.)
  • Avoid Nagging. Nobody wants to be a nag nor do they want to listen to a nag. It doesn’t help motivate a person to do anything. Instead, ask what kind of support they need.
  • Celebrate Milestones. Positive reinforcement can keep people on the wagon.

For more ways you can help them here are some links to the American Cancer Society’s Do’s and Don’t’s page and the Helpguide.org page.

Safety

The Burn Institute, a non-profit organization set up to prevent and reduce burn related injuries and death incidents in Southern California, states that fire deaths occur twice as much as the national average for people over the age of 65. They go on to report that smoking materials are the number one cause for fatal fires in the U.S.

In order to prevent smoking related fires here are a few things you can do:

  • Do not smoke or allow smoking when drowsy or in bed.
  • If your loved one has trouble getting around, help them to designated smoking areas.
  • Supply deep or large ashtrays in designated smoking areas.
  • Soak contents of ashtrays with water before throwing away in safe metal containers.
  • Do a house check nightly in areas where smoking has occurred.
  • Check for embers in furniture such as chairs, sofas, or recliners. A lit ember can smolder for hours before the items catch fire and burst into flames.
  • Remove safety hazards away from smoking areas.
  • Place “No Smoking” signs where flammable chemicals and materials are kept.
  • Do not allow smoking around oxygen tanks. Even if your loved one is on oxygen therapy, turn off the tank and remove it while they are smoking cigarettes.
  • Do regular safety and battery checks for smoke alarms.

Here are some more tips on how to keep a fire hazard free home for your aging loved ones.

Dealing with Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke can be just as risky as smoking an actual cigarette. It contributes to lung diseases such as asthma or bronchitis, heart disease, and cancer. In children it can cause infections in the middle ear and lower respiratory tract, SIDS, and a low birth weight if expecting mothers are exposed.

To decrease these effects from happening to you or your loved ones here is what you can do:

  • Designate a smoking area for your loved one outside of the home. By keeping your home smoke free, you decrease the amount of harmful chemicals that would get into you or your loved ones home.
  • Do not allow for them to smoke in your vehicle or theirs if they are still driving. Outside of the home, Americans spend just as much time in their vehicles. Enclosed in such a small space, you are increasing the chances of getting diseases related to secondhand smoke.

Keeping Healthy

While staying active and eating right alone won’t counteract the negative effects of smoking like quitting can, it does help in other areas. So continue to have them consistently eat more fruits and vegetables while maintaining a regular exercise routine.

To ensure they practice this, why not invite them over for a family dinner filled with healthy and hearty dishes. You can also start a traditional Saturday morning walk at the park or at the mall.

Although the best way for your loved ones to age well and maintain a healthy life style would be to quit smoking, there are ways to keep them healthy and happy despite their smoking habit.

If you have any questions about keeping your loved ones healthy, give us a call at (877) 230-4851 or visit www.synergyhomecare.com.

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