Follow
Share

My Grandma is 71 this Oct. and has been in an assisted living home for about 5+ years. She had a brain aneurism followed by 2 strokes in 2001 and her cognitive health has never been the same.


She has smoked cigarettes' for many years as well as weed. She still does, however, our family can only afford to buy her 1 pack a day at the most. When she does not get that pack or decides she wants more, she has been stealing from other residents of the home. This has been happening for about 6-8 months now. (2020 pandemic) Recently, it has gotten worse and now the other residents are threatening to call the authorities. When confronted, my Grandma said that she NEEDS two packs a day or she will kill herself. Suicide is very serious and my family is really scared and not sure what to do. We have very limited money and my aunt and I are the only ones close by.


I don't even know where to start, or who to go, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Find Care & Housing
Start by getting a cigarette machine so she can roll her own. When a person makes their own a pack of cigarettes costs about 25% what a store bought pack costs.
It's very easy to do. You just buy the cigarette tubes they come 200 in a box like a cartoon of cigarettes. (they have the filters already on them and they look like an empty cigarette), put them on the machine and add the tobacco that you buy by the bag.
I did this for years when I smoked. In my state a pack of Marlboro or Newport is about $12. Rolling your own is about $2 a pack. Big difference.
If your grandmother can't manage to roll her own then do it for her. Make her a few cartons a week.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
Report
marte48 Jul 4, 2021
What do you do about the smoke affecting non-smoker patients?
(0)
Report
See if nicotine patches might help. Or talk to doctor about other meds. It is pure torture to be addicted to cigarettes, want one, and not have one available. Non-smokers don't get it. If you happen to be an overeater - or eat for satisfaction to stress - then imagine the frig being empty when you're having a bad day. We all have our demons.
Helpful Answer (18)
Reply to my2cents
Report
BurntCaregiver Jul 5, 2021
my2cents,

I smoked for 35 years. Nicotine patches don't help. Chantix won't help. I've used both. In fact, I've used every kind of smoking cessation program and product there is and none of them worked for more than a couple of months. They didn't work because I didn't want them to work. I didn't really want to give up cigarettes.
Nothing will help a person quit smoking if they don't want to quit.
It's the same thing with alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, and any other addiction. If a person doesn't want to give it up, nothing can help them until they do.
I'm going on one year smoke-free because this time I really wanted to quit and am serious about it.
A 71 year old in an assisted living facility isn't going to be serious about wanting to quit. That's not gonna happen.
(2)
Report
I understand where Barb is coming from not because I was a smoker but because my 44 yr old daughter is. She has smoked since she was 13. Stopped when pregnant (not saying she didn't sneak one or two) as soon as she had the baby, she lit up one.

OP says her grandmother had an aneurysm and 2 strokes. She is in an AL for a reason. Her mind could be effected. OP said family can't afford more than a pack a day. Thats what $8.00 a pk? Thats $16 a day. About $500 a month, $6000 a year. Thats asking a lot of family members to foot the bill. Maybe there is an alternative. Some medication/patch that will help cut down on the need and one pk will be enough?
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report

Maybe it is all she has left. At her age to take them away would be traumatic for her. If she is threatening you to get what she wants this is not acceptable. She is making you feel responsible for her well being. You are not. You do enough for her. As far as stealing, that is commonplace for dementia patients. They would steal from my mother all the time. Once, someone stole her purse. I think the staff should take measures to prevent this from happening.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Isabelsdaughter
Report
BurntCaregiver Jul 5, 2021
Isabelsdaughter,

You're right. It would be traumatic to take the grandmother's cigarettes away.
As for the threatening, well needy people get pushy and desperate. Especially a needy person who's also an addict and smokers are addicts. You're also right about the staff of the AL taking some measures to make sure the dementia patients aren't stealing and ripping each other off. Those places cost a fortune to live in and this type of security should also be offered.
(3)
Report
See 1 more reply
Alva is right. You may not want to hear it, but AL is not the place for that level addiction. Bad choice to begin with, but POA needs to get dr involved and admin immediately. Cig machine? Omg whoever said that no.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to AT1234
Report
BurntCaregiver Jul 5, 2021
AT1234,

I am the one who suggested getting a cigarette machine to home- roll the grandmother's cigarettes to save money because it's a lot cheaper then smoking store-bought.
The grandmother is 71 years old and lives in an assisted living facility. Honestly, how much pleasure in life can this person have? It would be downright cruel to cut a person that age off their cigarettes. Really, what good would that do? Maybe she can get her miserable life extended by a few years if she's forced to quit smoking? My God, have some compassion already.
I started smoking when I was a pre-teen and that was a long time ago. I quit now going on one year. I'm not an old woman living in an AL facility. But I know what it's like when you run out of cigarettes or don't have enough.
If a person at 71 years of age can still enjoy their cigarettes and hasn't died of a smoking-related illness, then I say let them have it. No one at that age should have to suffer and struggle the way I do and every other addict around the world does every minute of every day. Not at that age. People that old have enough suffering and struggles. They don't need more. Let the poor woman have her cigarettes.
(3)
Report
See 1 more reply
Sounds like she needs to be Baker Acted (involuntary hospital hold) for psychiatric evaluation. I'm surprised the assisted living facility keeps her and has not called 911 due to her threat of self harm.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to cetude
Report

You start by telling the people at the ALH what she has told you. They may be able to help, or at least stop her from stealing from others. And keep an eye on her since she has threatened suicide.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to pamzimmrrt
Report
pwalker90 Jun 30, 2021
Thank you so much! Yes, the head nurse at the ALH is who told us this information. They are watching her closely but she is still free to leave the facility if she wants.
(5)
Report
Certainly I agree that suicidal threats must always be taken seriously. However, when they involve "If you don't get me cigarettes...." or "if you don't get me this or that" they are often more threats than real suicidal ideation. That said, it sounds as though your grandmother's condition is deteriorating somewhat. I would encourage the family or the POA to sit with the admins at the facility and discuss what changes they are seeing. It may be time for a visit to Grandmother's MD and perhaps a neuro-psyc eval. This could be depression, it could be dementia, it could be a UTI. Basically anything from us here would be guesswork. Time to call in the professionals. The answer if not two packs of cigarettes a day; that's for certain.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report
BurntCaregiver Jul 2, 2021
AlvaDeer,

I'm guessing you weren't a smoker. If you were then you know what it's like to be addicted to cigarettes and when there aren't enough or they run out. If you weren't, then you have no idea how the smoker suffers emotionally and psychologically when they don't get what they need. It's not a UTI. It's not dementia. She doesn't need a neuro-psych evaluation. She needs to have enough cigarettes.
I smoked for 35 years. I know the anxiety, panic, and even depression that comes with running out of smokes or not having enough.
They have to make sure grandma has her two packs a day. Even if they have to roll her smokes themselves to save money. If she has enough cigarettes, they will see a big change in her behavior.
(9)
Report
See 1 more reply
I totally get the cost of cigarettes, I quit in the 80s when they went over $1 a pack.

In this case if a pack of cigarettes or an additional one would solve every one’s problems I’d find a way to supply it

My mother with Parkinson’s is blowing 80 thousand a year maybe more, we can’t find everywhere she’s hiding it. And causing irreversible damage, there seems to be nothing and no way to stop her.

Count your blessings if a pack of smokes can smooth things over, take that step before it’s bigger then you can manage
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Mjustice98
Report

Please have her admitted to an impatient psych unit. She has inappropriate behavior that must be addressed.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Taarna
Report
paintertr Jul 4, 2021
Brain damage is not helped by psychiatric measures. My husband was incorrectly diagnosed with mental health issues and spent 4 months in a psych ward, 10 Electric shock treatments and 5 different antipsychotic drugs later no change. They said they could give him up to 35 electric shock treatments!! I took him home found a good neurologist and got the correct diagnosis of frontal temporal dementia. It is not curable but at least he is not being tortured by treatments that do him not good. Inappropriate behavior is one of the hallmarks of FTD
(9)
Report
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter