anyone caring for loved one who's smoking is an issue?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by flowers4u, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. flowers4u

    flowers4u Registered User

    May 5, 2014
    4
    After Dad's death, we moved Mum to more suitable house, that my partner owns, rent free. She has vascular dementia, but has been happy there for three years.
    Mum smoked in two rooms of previous rented home, magnolia turned caramel and landlord had to have wallpaper and plaster removed from both rooms.
    We've tried all ways to get her to smoke in the garden, but failed.
    Mum insists smoking in the conservatory is fine, as 'it's not in the house' but this morning, the whole ground floor was blue with cigarette smoke and its the final straw.
    I have phoned and ordered a cigarette smoke alarm which we will install on conservatory ceiling. Any cigarette smoke should activate a voice telling her not to smoke inside and to go in the garden.
    At the moment, the fabrics, wallpaper, clothes, bedlinen, towels, all stink of cigarette smoke. She had a fire in the waste bin last year. So I just hope this alarm works and keeps her out of the building when she smokes.
    any comment or advice welcome!
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    68,642
    Kent
    It`s almost impossible to get people with dementia to change their ways when their ways have been acceptable for years.

    I`m an ex smoker and although I accept the smell of smoke was often present in the house and furnishings had a yellow tinge, I have never heard of plaster needing to be renewed. I think the landlord was laying it on with a trowel.

    The fire risk is worrying. I would ask the advice of a Fire Prevention Officer. Home visits are free of charge. If your mother still insists on smoking in the conservatory I would ensure all furnishings are fireproof and waste bins are metal. I think some garden furniture might be safer than upholstered furniture and any blinds should be removed.

    This is only my opinion, it`s what I`d do if my mother smoked and was living alone but I would certainly get advice.
     
  3. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,661
    Salford
    Smoking and AZ is a dangerous combination, my wife still smokes but I have all the cigarette lighters, I'd never let her smoke unsupervised. I know none smokers hate the smell of cigarettes but from what you describe it sounds like she's smoking a awful lot of the things, could you limit her access to them?
    I think with my wife it's a displacement activity, when there's nothing else to occupy her mind she defaults to wanting a cig just for something to do.
    I tried e-cigs and the didn't work for me or my wife but they may work for you if not then the alarm you've ordered sounds like a good plan.
    K
     
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    68,642
    Kent
    Yes. I forgot to mention cigarette lighters are safer than matches.

    This highlights the bigger problem for people with dementia living alone.
     
  5. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,829
    UK
    The combination of a dementia sufferer living alone and smoking is a nightmare. My mum smokes and when she lived alone I was so worried, she lives with me now and her smoking is strictly supervised, though we have had a few accidents, she was in this loop of smoke cigarette, put out in ashtray then bin, couple of minutes later same thing. Problem was that she was not putting cigarettes out properly and we had a bin fire, amazing how quickly that took hold in a plastic bin. I now have metal bin and a sealed ashtray. I don't think you will be able to convince her to smoke outside, especially when Winter comes, think the best you can do is make that conservatory as safe as possible, remove curtains or blinds, even some of the furniture leaving a chair and small table with a few plants. Does the conservatory have a roof, or any other higher hard to reach window that you could leave slightly open. Years ago I used to have an electric air filter/cleaner, would something like this help with the smell?

    It does sound like your mum is chain smoking, I guess she can still go off and buy her own, if not and you are responsible for buying then keep an empty packet and each day put only a certain number in it, this was how I got mum to cut down, E cigarettes did not work, cost a fortune, but mum kept trying to light them or throw them on open fire and patches well no good at all.

    Really, all we can do is lower the odds. Hope you find something.
     
  6. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    511
    Social services are aware that my MIL smokes, and a fire officer has been to her house a couple of times in the last six months. He left her with fireproof bedding (she lives alone and smokes in bed ...) and with a fireproof throw to go over her chair. She's also got fire alarms that are linked to her community alarm, so if they go off someone phones to check she's alright. She's still chain smoking, and opens the windows to get fresh air - which wouldn't be so bad except she leaves the heating turned on 24/7 so the oil bill is through the roof. It's a nightmare, but she's been smoking for 60 years and never had any interest in giving up, so the chance of her changing her ways now is zero. Goodness knows what will happen if she has to go into a care home and they want her to cut down.
     
  7. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,046
    Staffs
    I have never smoked, never tried one and hate the smell.

    My Mom smoked all her life and when I cared for her, in her home, I put up with it as it was her home and her choice.

    What I fail to understand here is why this should bother you so much to be the "final straw"?

    As she only smokes in the conservatory make sure everything in there is fire proof/resistant and make the most of the time you have with her being "happy". I do hope that lasts for many more years to come.:)
     
  8. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,829
    UK
    I understand why you are so worried, thought it was just the conservatory she smoked in. I think a care home will just load on the nicotine patches and that's not so good especially over night, nicotine being a stimulant! Dementia is a money pit, thankfully oil prices are low at moment so I've just ordered a load. So your mother still has the ability to use the timer? Is there anyway you can set temp lower while still on 24 hrs, but not too low obviously.
     
  9. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    2,046
    Staffs
    Different people I think:confused:
     
  10. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,829
    UK
    Yes, realised after I posted and too late to edit!!!!
     
  11. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    511
    Hi! Yes, it is a different person but cheers for the reply! The difficulty with setting the temperature lower is that my MIL is elderly so obviously she does need to keep warm - she knows how to use the sliders to turn the heating from timed to on, but has forgotten how to use the 'advance' button. I can't see her getting on with nicotine patches when she has such a strong habit of physically smoking. What with that and the three or four expressos she drinks every day, moving to a care home would be quite a shock to her system.
     
  12. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,624
    USA
    My mother was also a life-long smoker, and the past 2-3 years, as her dementia got steadily worse and she was living on her own, she did smoke more. As others have reported, with the short-term memory impairment, of course she couldn't remember she had just had a cigarette. It was also a habit of 50-plus years. It was also something she did, to have something to do. It was also something she would do anytime she felt upset or anxious (which was a huge problem the past couple of years, related to the dementia).

    I worried constantly about the risk of fire and my mother injuring herself and/or others in her building. It is all kinds of a miracle, that this never occurred. Or maybe it did and I just don't know.

    My mother is now in a care home and my husband and I are cleaning up her condo to sell. After ten years of one smoker living there, and a previous ten years of two smokers living there, we will have to strip the wallpaper, repaint everything, and replace the carpeting. The smell, after six months of sitting empty, is still overwhelming and awful. I don't know about plaster, but as someone who hates the smell, I can understand that you are concerned about the smell/damage from the cigarettes, as well as the safety situation.

    I'm lucky that my mother is now a non-smoker, but of course your situation is different.

    (My mother had a two-week stay in hospital, which broke her smoking habit--she was in a locked ward and there was nowhere to go to smoke, which somehow she understood. When we moved her to the care home, nobody mentioned smoking and she hasn't said a word about smoking since about day five of the hospital stay. The hospital and care home did use patches for quite some time, to taper her off the nicotine very slowly. Of course there is no smoking in the care home, and as I said, she never brings it up. It's as if she does not remember she was a smoker. She doesn't cough nearly as much as she used to!)

    I wish I had some better advice for you. It will be interesting to hear if you have any success with the alarm/reminder system. Others here have mentioned having the fire department come in for an assessment, which you might consider.

    I would remove any matches, as others have said. My mother was a collector/hoarder as part of her dementia symptoms, living alone, and the number of matchboxes and cigarette lighters (and other things) we have cleared out of her home was not to be believed.

    I do think there are specially designed ashtrays that will help to contain/filter the cigarette smoke that you can buy. My mother refused to use these, but you could try? Also, as others mentioned, there are portable room-sized air filters/cleaners you might also try. I'd make sure all the waste bins are metal and sturdy, not wood or plastic or wicker, et cetera. And if the furnace/HVAC/whatever is the sort that has replaceable filters, I'd use the expensive allergen filters and change them more often than recommended. If they are the washable sort, again, I'd wash them very often. (I don't know if those are usual in the UK, so apologies if that doesn't apply.)

    If your mum has carers going in, can they be enlisted to help keep an eye on things, empty ashtrays, open a window if needed, et cetera? That could give you some peace of mind even if it's not much practical use?

    At the end of the day, as you of course know, you cannot reason with someone with dementia. I hope you are able to find a solution and avoid an accident/injury situation.
     

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