• June 26, 2017 /  Basics

    Tips for Seniors Who Want to Stop Smoking

    Are you a senior who smokes? You’re not alone. People of all ages struggle to quit, and know that there are risks to continuing to do it. However, older smokers are at greater risks because they have usually smoked longer (an average of 40 years), tend to be heavier smokers, and are more likely to suffer from smoking-related illnesses. It can become an ingrained part of their life that they can’t imagine giving up.

    You are most likely well aware of the increase in lung cancer due to smoking. What you may not know is smoking also dramatically increases the users risk of numerous other illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke and lower respiratory tract infections – all leading causes of death in those over 50 years of age.

    What would be the benefits go quitting? Here are just a few. Be sure to consult your doctor before embarking on major health changes.

    • Prolong your life
    • Reduce your risk of disease (including heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, ulcers, gum disease and other conditions.)
    • Feel healthier (After quitting, you won’t cough as much, have as many sore throats and you will increase your stamina.)
    • Look better (Quitting can help you prevent face wrinkles, get rid of stained teeth and improve your skin.)
    • Improve your sense of taste and smell
    • Save money, which is especially important for older adults on a fixed income

    But how can you quit? You might be overwhelmed by the thought. Here are a few suggestions. See if a few of them appeal to you.

    • Pick a date on the calendar to stop smoking, and share your goal with family/friends for moral support.
    • List your personal reasons for quitting, and keep that list in view.
    • Stop smoking in certain situations (such as after dinner, or before bed) while you work your way towards quitting completely
    • Keep busy doing things that make it hard to smoke, like working in the yard and exercising.
    • Fight the urge by going places where smoking isn’t allowed, and by staying around people who don’t smoke.
    • Avoid situations that tempt you to smoke, like drinking coffee or alcohol.
    • Find a substitute to reach for instead of a cigarette. Try a sugar-free hard candy or chew sugar-free gum.
    • Remind yourself that you’re likely to feel better if you stop smoking.
    • Ask your health care provider about using nicotine gum or patches. Some people find these aids helpful.
    • Join a smoking cessation support group or program.

    Don’t throw in the towel if you smoke a cigarette. It doesn’t mean you failed! Seventy-five percent of people who quit subsequently relapse. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful! There’s no one way to quit that works for everyone. You must be ready emotionally and mentally. You must also want to quit smoking for yourself, and not to please your friends or family. Plan ahead.

    How can you keep yourself encouraged on the road to quitting?

    • Don’t carry a lighter, matches or cigarettes with you.
    • Ask other smokers to not smoke in your presence.
    • Don’t focus on what you are missing. Think about the healthier way of life you are gaining.
    • Keep yourself busy with healthy activities such as walking, seeing friends for lunch, and gardening.
    • Don’t substitute food or sugar-based products for cigarettes. Eat low-calorie, healthy foods (such as carrot or celery sticks, sugar-free hard candies) or chew gum when the urge to smoke strikes so you can avoid weight gain.
    • It is best to drink plenty of fluids, but to limit alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They can trigger urges to smoke.
    • Reward yourself for these milestones. You deserve it!
    • Quitting becomes easier after the first few days.

    Withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling irritable, hungry, coughing often, getting headaches or having difficulty concentrating occur because the body is used to nicotine, the active addicting agent within cigarettes. These symptoms occur because the body is adjusting to the lack of nicotine. The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when one is first quitting but will go away within 10 to 14 days. It is good to remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases that smoking can cause.

    Don’t be discouraged if you have a relapse. Keep trying! Before embarking on any sort of health, exercise, or lifestyle changes, it’s important you speak to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your desire to quit smoking beforehand, so that they can guide you.

    For more information, visit http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts-figures/smoking-and-older-adults.html

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  • June 13, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    6 Essential Tips for Managing Arthritis

    Living with arthritis isn’t easy. For many seniors, it can be an unpleasant addition to other health problems. As you lose your ability to do simple things like using a can opener, typing, or writing, your frustration will likely increase. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that approximately 50 million people in the United States are living with some form of arthritis, making this crippling disease the country’s most common form of disability.

    If you are handicapped by any form of arthritis, you know the limitations the disease imposes on your ability to work, move, and generally feel comfortable, and you are probably willing to try anything that might improve your quality of life. There are definitely things you can do to lessen the pain and possibly increase your mobility. Here are six ways you can self-manage an arthritis diagnosis and improve your quality of life.

    1. Diet – It can start as simple as the food you put into your mouth. Most of us try to eat a healthy diet, but for those with arthritis and other difficult health problems, it is essential. You need to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function at its highest level. Packaged foods and frozen dinners can lack the proper nutrition required. But with age you might find your desire or ability to cook lessens. You can start by looking up recipes designed to be simple and healthy. You can also look into a food service such as Meals on Wheels, who can provide what you need and bring it right to your doorstep.
    2. Exercise – This is something I discussed in detail in the past. Read the post, “How to Exercise When You Have Arthritis” for more! In general, your aim is to keep moving, whether in large or small ways. Always consult your doctor before embarking on a fitness regime. However, you can start by focusing on doing just a little, but doing it often. You can walk around your neighborhood in the morning, garden in the afternoon, and swim in the evening, as an example. Your muscles support your joints, so strengthening them can greatly reduce pain. Your doctor may have other suggestions.
    3. Rest – Make sure to get 7-9 hours sleep per night. A study published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research 2015 found that people who didn’t get sufficient sleep had increased levels of osteoarthritis knee pain. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, have a bath (a tip discussed next), and practice relaxation techniques if you find getting to sleep is difficult. Short naps, as long as they aren’t too close to evening time, can refresh you as well.
    4. Take a bath – Yes, really! This simple tip can have a multitude of benefits. Soaking in warm water makes your joints looser by reducing the force of gravity that’s compressing them. This offers 360-degree support for your sore limbs. It’ll decrease swelling and inflammation, and increase circulation. Be sure to go warm, but not too hot. Epsom salts are a great addition to your bath, which actually increase your magnesium – a mineral important for bone health. Be wary if you have diabetes, as it can stimulate insulin release. Ask your doctor first.
    5. Joint care – It’s important to look after your joints so as not to risk further damage. How can you reduce the stress on your joints while carrying out everyday tasks? Use larger, stronger joints as levers – for example, take the pressure of opening a heavy door on your shoulder rather than on your hand. You can also use several joints to spread the weight of an object – for example, use both hands to carry your shopping or distribute the weight evenly in a shoulder bag or rucksack.

    Arthritis pain should not be a reason why you stop enjoying your everyday life. These are just a few options when it comes to self-care. Consult with your doctor for more ideas on what you can do from home.

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