Jul 17, 2023

Benefits of quitting smoking for older Australians

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of current (2021-2022) daily smokers gradually increased with age until 55-64 years where it peaked at 13.6%. [Source: Shutterstock]

As you transition into your golden years, making important decisions takes up a majority of your time. Whether it be decisions about retirement, medical procedures, travel or even moving into an aged care home – they are all crucial at a certain point in life and can take up a lot of your time and need dedication.

For many, looking after their health takes the top spot in their list of priorities, but getting rid of old unhealthy habits is no easy task.

For older Australians, breaking free from the grip of tobacco will present several benefits like improved blood circulation, lowers the risk of a heart attack and stroke, while also setting a healthy example for the grandchildren.

In this article, HelloCare delves into the transformative impact of quitting smoking on the health and well-being of older Australians.

The detrimental effects of smoking are well-documented, and they become even more pronounced as one ages. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of current (2021-2022) daily smokers gradually increased with age until 55-64 years where it peaked at 13.6%. Smokers are also at a high risk of developing type-2 diabetes compared to nonsmokers and on average will find it a lot harder to regulate their insulin and blood sugar levels as they continue to age.

However, when older individuals choose to quit smoking, they embark on a journey toward renewed health and vitality. The body possesses an incredible capacity for healing and rejuvenation and by quitting smoking, you can allow your body to initiate a remarkable healing process.

Cardiovascular Health 

One of the most significant improvements after quitting smoking is seen in cardiovascular health. Within hours of quitting, the blood pressure can start to normalise, reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, quitting smoking helps to improve blood circulation, leading to enhanced energy levels and a reduced risk of peripheral artery disease.

Respiratory Health

The respiratory system is probably affected the most for smokers; and is arguably the first to see positive signs during the process of quitting the but. The individual will instantaneously begin to breathe with more ease, helping the lung function better and overall reducing the risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This change can then help the individual focus on doing activities they might have once found very challenging to do. 

Mental Health

As you get older, it can get tiring to do small tasks around the house or your yard. These small tasks can get even more challenging for those who have been regular smokers for most of their life. Small changes to your lifestyle like climbing stairs, walking the dog or playing with the grandkids can be hard for regular smokers after a certain age; and quitting smoking can help ease those daily activities. 

Research from a study conducted on 148 people in 2016 suggested that over a third of participants, who were regular smokers, were likely to feel depressed and develop anxiety. Breaking free from nicotine addiction brings a sense of empowerment and control, contributing to improved self-esteem and mental health.

Quitting smoking has a positive ripple effect on relationships and social interactions. These small moments with loved ones can bring in a lot of joy and help feel active and socially inclusive, leading to better mental health. 

Curbing Cancer

The effects of smoking can lead to several types of cancer; and has been linked to various forms of cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, and bladder cancer. An Australian first study published in 2021 revealed that smoking can cause 12 types of cancers. The study reports that by the age of 80, an estimated 48.3% will develop cancer, as compared to 41.1% of non-smokers, of which 14% will develop lung cancer. 

Financial Benefits

Furthermore, quitting smoking can visibly leave a positive impact on the financial well-being of older individuals. The cost of cigarettes can be a significant burden on an individual’s budget, especially during retirement and even more if you’re living on a pension. The Guardian reported that Australia’s cigarette tax is one of the highest in the world and is estimated to rise by an additional 5% each year for the next three years. This change will mean an average pack of 25 cigarettes will increase from just under $40 to $50 in four years time, depending on the brand.

Eliminating this regular expense, older Australians can allocate their financial resources toward more fulfilling pursuits, such as hobbies, travel and spending quality time with loved ones.

As crucial as it is to kick the butt, it’s not an easy process. It’s time consuming, it requires a lot of patience, resilience and the support of your community and family. State and Federal Governments have put in place several resources and programs to assist in the transition and cessation efforts. 

From tailored counselling services to nicotine therapies and support groups, find what best suits your needs and make the change today.

https://www.health.gov.au/topics/smoking-and-tobacco/how-to-quit-smoking/coping-with-quitting-and-staying-smoke-free

https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/quitline

https://www.icanquit.com.au/

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