Caring for an Elderly Parent

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Jul 17, 2009
Life brings many stressors, but one of the most trying periods for many people is when they find themselves faced with caring for their aging parents. In most cases, individuals are faced with this challenge when there are already many other life stressors such as raising children, financial stress, marital stress, etc.

Juggling the needs of elderly parents while managing other daily stressors can be extremely difficult for people who are trying to stop using tobacco. Looking for healthy ways to manage the stress is an important part of the quitting process. Oftentimes when we are caught up in helping others, we neglect ourselves. It is more important than ever to pay attention to stress management. Hot baths, soothing music, physical activity, and engaging in your favorite hobbies are just a few ways that you can take care of yourself at this fragile time in your life.

Utilizing coping skills such as behavioral or oral substitutes (gum, mints, sunflower seeds, cinnamon sticks) are always an important part of a quit plan. Be sure that you have an ample supply at your disposal.

Sometimes tough decisions regarding elderly parents’ care and home situation can cause an enormous amount of stress. In addition to seeking support from your loved ones as you are faced with difficult decisions, remember that support for stopping tobacco use is also important. Talk to the important people in your life and let them know the best ways that they can support you in taking steps to remain tobacco-free.

Although providing for the needs of your aging parent is certainly a very important time in your life, don’t neglect this very important decision that you have made to become healthier in your own life choices. Remember to stay the course and stay focused on all the benefits that a tobacco-free life will bring! If you haven't already go to BecomeAnEX.org to start your quit plan.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org