msmjack Asked December 2010

My mother smokes two packs of cigarettes a day and she has COPD, emphysema and diabetes. What can I do?

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She won't eat either.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Dec 2010
This is sad, but you can't change her. I know of people who smoke while using oxygen. Firefighters go nuts over that. But smoking is addictive and supposedly a very hard addiction to get over. Try to have compassion and work with her, but know that you can't force her to change. This is painful, I know. But it happens often.

Try to take care of yourself,
Carol
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Vernon Dec 2010
My Dad had a similar problem with alcohol. He had always been a closet alcoholic and though in later years cut down a very little bit, wouldn't quit.

On one of his last major visits to the hospital concerning issues that are impacted by alcohol, I asked the doctor to try to encourage him to quit. The doctor basically told me to mind my own business, that it was one of the few things he seemed to enjoy. I think most people will understand that from that point on the doctor wasn't held high in my book of esteem.

In retrospect, though, it would have been too emotionally trying on both of us to try to coerce him toward quitting, much less emotionally and physically demanding on his own being to go through the 'hell' of attempting to quit. Given my Dad's age and long term health issues... the doctor, for his own reasons, may have been right.

Perhaps this concept will help your own emotions when worrying about your Mom and her smoking.

Good luck.

V
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anne123 Dec 2010
Just want to add to my first comment.....My mother suffered from COPD and lung cancer and has since died. Cigarette smoking is such a powerful addiction, and she had finally succeeded in quitting, but late in life. In her last months of life, Mom would comment to me how much it pained her to see young people lighting up.
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hapfra Dec 2010
I think our expert here-said it all---Unfortunately there is nothing you can do-that I am aware of---as your Mom is addicted to smoking.....Rationalizing for the most part, does not work---and will probably lead to fustration on your part. I have been that route-and got no place. Your Mom has to want to STOP smoking.
Best,
Hap
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ChristinaW Dec 2010
What about the Nicorette gum, or the patch? Much safer around OXYGEN!!! If you could keep the cigarettes away for a few days, she would get really hungry, but I guess that is not possible with an addiction. Poor thing. As long as she and the house are safe, another bullet to bite:(. Peace...
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ChristinaW Dec 2010
oops--sorry--I misspoke. I saw "oxygen" in an early post and translated in my mind that your Mother was on it. Please excuse my assumption. All the Best.
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4luvofmom Dec 2010
I am in the exact same circumstance as you. My Mother lives with me and she too has COPD, emphysema and she also battles with bronchitis and Pneumonia from time to time. She was smoking upwards of 2 + packs per day. In the beginning I took on the battle of her smoking with Oxygen in the house and most of the time she did OK, until i found her falling to sleep/ dozing off and just so happens the day before one of my husbands friends from work had just received the news that His mother had died in a fire do to her smoking while using Oxygen and she fell asleep. So needless to say I had to put my foot down and really talked to her about her selfishness in smoking when she's really tired and the things that could happen to the entire household because of it. Thank the lord above she actually listened and we reached a compromise of sorts... she will only smoke ...1 - when she's wide awake, and 2 - she has to take the oxygen off when she lights up ( that aids in the " wake up call " part).
You don't have to be paranoid when it comes to the use of Oxygen but you do have to be careful.
She struggled with this for a while but with the thoughts of what could happen and her knowing how I felt about what she was doing or could do to all of us here she has been reasonable and understanding.
My Mother thinks that Cigarettes are all she has left in her life because she hasn't got anything left ( she can pivot to use the commode but is mostly in bed and only gets out when she bathes or has to go to the Doctors). Yes she is very depressed and thinks that if she has to give up her cigg's then she might as well die. ( She has lost a lot in the past five years...her husband of 33yrs, her house and her independence, so I can understand why she feels this way)
So you see you can't take them completely away but hopefully by letting her know how you feel about what she's doing and how you love her she will at least cut back.
My mother had agreed to cut back to 4 ciggs a day so far it has been almost 4 wks. and she is doing really well. and her breathing has already improved some. She hasn't had as many scary attacks of not being able to breathe. It was getting to the point where she couldn't use the commode without getting totally out of breath.
Patience and understanding on both sides will go along way.
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moonjac Dec 2010
My father in law passed away a year ago (Dec. 10th) of COPD. He was 85 - had smoked since he was 12. He also had worked for many years in a cotton mill and a brake factory (asbestos). Who knows what (or all) that contributed to his problems. He never had any interest in stopping the smoking until major health problems (or discomfort/pain) hit him the last 2-3 years. He was also on oxygen along with different medications added to his breathing apparatus. The doctors that examined him at this point also said, why stop now? It was something that at least momentarily eased his pain. Don't let your need for a way to "fix" things limit their having a few things to enjoy. They also wish at this point that they had not ever started. I don't smoke but have been the receiver of the 2nd hand smoke. I now express my opposition to others smoking around me. Too bad I never knew it was OK to do so most of my life.
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Kimmy0930 Dec 2010
I know how you feel - my mom smokes at least 2 packs a day, has 7 stints in her heart, continues to pound down the red meat, bacon, fat, etc., has PAD with one atery in her leg 100% blocked. The physician she saw for the blocked artery refused to treat her because she isn't trying to help herself. Didn't phase her. You can't make her want what you want for her. I would give anything if she would quit and take care of herself, but it's not going to happen. She had 4 sisters with COPD, 2 have already passed away from COPD complications and one under hospice care. She still won't stop. My suggestion would be to try not to enable her. And try not to feel guilty about her actions. She is doing this to herself and no one can make her stop. It's sad, I know. You want so much better for her but if she doesn't want it, you can't make her. Just don't make it easy for her to continue on with the bad habit. Good luck.
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It really is strange how people say "just let her enjoy the time she has left…, etc. My mom has COPD + emphysema and went back to the cigs after pneumonia in the hospital, oxygen at home $60,000 in bills. Just let someone do crack or heroin ' let them enjoy the time they have left, . How about intensive inpatient or some other "program". for the cig addicts as well….The very last day of someone's life, the very last death rattle for a breath of air, I wonder if they would trade even a day or an hour more of life for pack to Marlboros.
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