How can I convince Dad to stop smoking?

A fellow caregiver asked...

After his heart attack, my 72-year-old father went right back to smoking. Nothing I say to him makes a difference. What can I do to make him take better care of himself?

Expert Answer

Barry M. Massie is chief of cardiology at the San Francisco V.A. Medical Center.

It's very unlikely that your father doesn't know he shouldn't be smoking, and it rarely helps to nag. Ideally, someone other than a family member, such as his physician or maybe even a close friend, should take the lead. Family dynamics may make it difficult for you to get through to him, but someone more detached might deliver the message clearly.

There are certainly programs and nicotine substitutes that help, but as they say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." When the time comes, remember that quitting smoking isn't easy. Your father will need as much support as you can give if and when he decides to go through with it.