The goal of hospice care is to make patients as comfortable as possible, and your loved one may argue that smoking is one of the things that makes them happy or eases their nerves. So if that’s the case, what’s the harm in letting them indulge, especially if they are already considered terminally ill? Having to quit smoking during hospice may seem unfair, especially because the philosophy of hospice is to make the patient as comfortable as possible. However, there are a lot of dangers for people who smoke while in hospice care, and their lives can be improved when they quit. It is not an easy conversation to have, but it is an important one.
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Reasons to Quit Smoking During Hospice
With the right information and a loving, caring approach by caregivers that includes helping the patient through nicotine cravings, the lives of hospice patients can improve. Here are the biggest reasons to quit smoking during hospice.
1. Risk of Fire
Hospice patients often take medications that make them sleepy, increasing the risk that they will fall asleep with a cigarette in their hand. Both burning embers and cigarettes themselves can cause fires, especially around bedding, blankets, or a hospice patient’s favorite chair. More than 15,000 home fires occur each year due to people smoking cigarettes in their homes, resulting in close to 500 deaths and well over 1,000 injuries. Beyond the risk these fires pose for the smoker, the entire family is put at risk when hospice patients smoke in their homes. There is also the danger of losing or causing significant damage to their homes and to all of the equipment that keeps them comfortable.
2. Hospice Often Calls on Oxygen Tanks
People on hospice often require oxygen to deal with pulmonary disease or to make it easier for them to breathe. Explain to your loved one that while regular air is about 20% oxygen, the air from tanks is almost 100% oxygen, and it is highly flammable. Patients may believe that if they turn off the tank, they can then safely enjoy a cigarette. However, oxygen builds up in the air and can even build up on clothing, bedding, and patients’ bodies. Severe facial burns may occur due to just a match or lighter well after the oxygen is turned off, especially since that pure oxygen is often in the nostrils and around the face, close to wear the burning cigarette will be.
3. Smoking Doesn’t Actually Calm Nerves
Your loved one may argue that smoking calms their nerves and makes them feel better. The problem is that the euphoria people feel after smoking quickly fades, and then the person actually feels worse. Smoking stresses the body by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, causing blood vessels to constrict and decreasing the amount of oxygen going to the brain. Smoking also makes the respiratory system struggle, exacerbating existing physical problems that are themselves sources of stress.
4. Improving the Quality of Life
People on hospice who smoke argue that they want to enjoy themselves as much as possible. Explain to them that when they stop smoking, they enjoy benefits very quickly exceed those from smoking. People who quit smoking on hospice have improved blood pressure and heart rates within a day and start to recover their senses of taste and smell after just a few days. Convince your loved one that enjoying their favorite foods again or the smell of fresh cut grass is better than smoking.
If you need the type of social support that helps family members or loved ones provide the best care possible for patients on hospice, let us know by calling (702) 509-5276. Hospice isn’t just for the patient; it’s for everyone involved.