It’s never too late to quit smoking

May 31, 2017 3 min

You can help your parent to stop smoking by identifying their triggers, distracting them from their cravings, supporting them by being patient and encouraging them to take up a hobby.

Why it’s important to quit

At HomeTouch we’re all about life. We are passionate about helping your loved one to live with dignity in their own home, for as long as possible. As a result it makes sense for us to support World No Tobacco Day 2017.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death globally, and in the UK it’s still one of the biggest public health issues, causing over 100,000 deaths annually. That’s independent of the number of people killed by conditions strongly related to smoking. These conditions include:

  • Cancers (various)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic pulmonary conditions – including obstructive pulmonary disease

Although it’s true that those aged 60 or over are less likely to try to quit smoking, studies show that those who do, do so successfully. However, if smoking continues past the age of 60, the health issues related to smoking become more prevalent. Annually, 70% of the deaths caused by smoking are in the 60+ age group.

The most common smoking-related condition to affect those over 60, is lung cancer, with 85% of all lung cancer cases happening to people in that age group. Smoking has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and general cognitive decline.

None of this is good, and none of it helps your loved ones to live independently, with dignity in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. So what can be done?


Smoking is a habit; there are times when smoking will feel right simply because it’s when a cigarette has always happened. So, change the habit, or at least change the cigarette part. Coffee with a cigarette in the morning can be replaced by coffee and a biscuit. A cigarette after lunch could be replaced by a short walk, leaving the cigarettes behind.

Related topic  Cognitive remediation and reminiscence therapy


Your loved one might describe the feeling that their hands should be doing something when they’re not. So when the cravings hit, encourage them to carry something that can take the tension away from those itchy fingers. Fidget-cubes are neat, provide an assortment of different tactile interactions, and can easily fit in a pocket, but it could be something as simple as a pen. Another method is to use cut lengths of drinking straw for them to suck through where a cigarette would be.


Company is important, but some company can make quitting harder. If friends or family members smoke, it’s important that those people resist the urge to smoke in front of your loved one while they are quitting, or stay away for a little while until the cravings have subsided.

After that it’s a case of giving your loved one all the support they want and need, especially when their cravings cause them to snap.


Encourage your loved one to take-up something new. Not smoking is a goal built on not doing something, so it helps to counter this with another goal that is focused on doing something that adds to their lives. This will pair stopping with starting, and success will follow on both fronts.

Take it slow

Every day is a new day, and goals can be reached in small increments. It may be better to stop smoking slowly, in which case every cigarette that’s not smoked is an achievement.

Be forgiving

Habits are born out of time, and by nature the elderly have had a lot of time to get into bad habits. If your loved one slips up, it’s understandable, they’re only human. You can counter this with support and reinforcement. As long as they feel supported to get back to it, they’re much more likely to succeed. It’s also inevitable that they should waver, and at that point it’s ideal to reinforce their motivation points. Keep their end goal in mind and keep them looking forward.

Related topic  Managing challenging behaviour in dementia

Helping someone you love to quit smoking, is always going to be hard. Especially when that person is approaching the end of their life, looking back instead of forward. However, the future does need to be considered.

HomeTouch provides a simple platform that links you to hand selected self-employed carers in your area. Home care, whether hourly or full time, can provide your loved one with the support they need to continue living safely in their own home. Whether you need a break for a few hours a week to concentrate on yourself, or you need the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’re not alone, there’s a home care option for you.

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