I have just been to see my grandma today. She is 83 and a heavy smoker, largely housebound. She has severe COPD; she uses (or is supposed to use) Symbicort 400/12, Atrovent 20mcg, and Salamol 100mcg, and has been offered home O2 multiple times and always refused.

(I don't have COPD and I do not smoke either, and never have, never will. I do however have brittle asthma).

She's in denial, my mum and I believe. She continues to smoke, despite DVT, PE, the COPD, Crohn's, multiple hospitalisations…I think she has given up. She says every Christmas how she is sure that Christmas will be her 'last one', and I think she knows full well that giving up smoking would benefit her and she would have more energy and less difficulty breathing, but she won't give up, and she doesn't take her meds properly. She doesn't use a spacer with her inhalers, and she doesn't take the Symbicort. Doctors and nurses have, countless times, explained her meds to her but she just doesn't seem to take it on board, and she isn't a very good personal advocate so she was given a Volumatic spacer which she hated (way too big; I hate those things too) but she won't ask for an AeroChamber spacer. She doesn't really know that the Symbicort contains a steroid, or what each of her meds does, or any of that. I don't think she realises that home O2 would help her energy levels either.

This is hard for me. With anyone else, if they chose to continue smoking despite a lung condition, I would have zero sympathy. But she's my grandma; it's different.

We need her to give up smoking. But how, when she's so stubborn?


-- Matt

15 Replies

  • I really feel for you. Your Grandmother is, after all, 83 and has made her lifestyle and health choices in spite of extensive information. I just hope that she doesn't also choose to exacerbate your asthma by smoking in your presence. Try not to worry which I realise is difficult.

  • Your lovely grandma probably won't give up Matt because she doesn't want to. All family can do is offer encouragement and just be there. Xxx

  • well smoking is so terribly addictive .Ismoked for 40 years and tried just about every way to quit.My doctor prescribed Champix which worked wonderfully.You need to discuss fully with her GP as has some very serious possible side effects..none of which I experienced.

  • Hello Matt, understand how it feels but it is hard to get someone to change the habits of a lifetime especially at your grandmas age. Maybe she feels it too late to give up, but it is not is it? and she would feel better as you know. You are doing your best for her and everyone agrees with you, but don't wear yourself out trying to change someone else. Take care and best wishes

  • Sorry you are so worried Matt, I'm afraid sometimes want we would wish for our loved ones doesn't work. My mum passed away from lung cancer quite a few years ago but always denied that it was the smoking that caused the cancer. I smoked in those days and when I said that I was giving up she said I was a fool as a good cough after a cigarette would clear the gunk out of my lungs.

    Love your nan, keep her safe as she will allow you too but you and your mum look after yourselves.

    There is always somebody here that you can talk to.



  • hi Matt

    I don't believe you will ever get her to stop smoking. She is 83 she has multiple health problems and to be honest if she did stop smoking she would quite possibly go downhill faster. She would be losing what is to her , her best friend. It would be so difficult for her to do and I think she knows that. By the way she would not be given oxygen while she is smoking unless they were absolutely sure that she would not smoke anywhere near it so obviously not while she is using it.

    It must be very difficult for you as you have asthma but it seems to me that all you can do is support her as best you can. My eldest sister is in Australia and has much the same attitude to her COPD and her meds and to life in general. She has stopped smoking but she will not do anything to help herself, like exercising, she treats her steroids like sweets and just has one if she feels like it. All families can do in my opinion is respect the person's wishes, they are not children and we should, I think, respect that they may not want to live forever.

    As others have said, take care of yourself and try not to worry too much.

  • Well said.

  • Find out what friut or sweet ect and get one of the e cigs just put it by her fags and do not say any thing she might try it her self with out anyone saying anything to her I will let you in to a secret the wife got me one yes I did try it but I did still had fags yes but I went for a few weeks with out the e fag then I went back on it but she did not keep on about it so now I am on the e fag 90% of the time but I do not smoke in the houes no car or in front of the wife only out by the back door which she knows about and I was a very heave smoker down to a few a day so just try it with her

  • I was a stubborn giver upper of my fags, so I tried an e-cig Nicotine flavour.

    Slowly I started smoking more and more of the e-cig and eventually was on it all the time ( no ciggie`s ) .

    One day ( and I don't know why ), I took the lot of the e-cig bits and bobs and threw them in the bin.... I have never smoked a fag or an e-cig since and that was coming on 4 years ago..

    The E-cig definitely done the job after many many years of trying to give up it was the end of a long habit which took my health away.

    Funny thing is, I haven't got the slightest desire or longing for a fag and I can smell them even at the bottom of the street and on peoples clothes and at the shopping centre door ( where I hold my breath ) because the smell makes me sick..

    But it was a struggle, as someone said, they were my pal my security blanket my comforter, what a fool I was for falling into that trap.


    looking back never solves anything ( Hind Sight ) and people saying " give them up " is no use unless you are already in that frame of mind.

    Love and understanding IS Important and a respect of ones life style choice.


  • Hi tomc I gave up using an ecig too now the NHS are offering them on prescription as a stoping smoking aid

  • That's brilliant, they do work as I said I was stubborn about giving up it took 15 years

    Ans what a difference to your health ( even though I have COPD )

  • Hi Matt, Im so sorry you're burdened with worry about your grandma. Although you are desperate to save her from herself, its unlikely, as everyone says, that you can. So please concentrate on looking after yourself. I hope you are able to have a good Christmas. Take care :)

  • I smoked for 60+ years so you can work out that I am no chicken; I too have resp. problems and my son bought an e-cig for me six years ago in January - I have never smoked since. Vaping is so much more pleasureable than smoking, why not try giving her a good, reputable e-cig for Christmas? If she's a heavy smoker the supermarket look-alikes won't work so do some online research - better still if you have a good vape shop anywhere near they'll advise you. Having said that, she's survived for 83 years so it's her choice whether she switches or not and you have to respect that. Best of luck and keep us posted.

  • We actually do have a smart-looking vape shop in my town, although I can't go in it personally because my lungs would shut down. I can only suggest it to my mum; my grandma has stated before that e-cigs "just aren't the same" (kind of the point nan!) but then again she was using the ones that look like cigarettes and light up at one end, so they might not be as 'good' as the pen-style ones people seem to be favouring these days..?

  • Also, do they have liquid that tastes like cigarettes/isn't fruity? The fruit-flavoured ones have been linked with Bronchiolitis Obliterans, so...

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