Having a chronic condition such as Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) can be particularly concerning if you are living alone. However, there are steps you can take to help you live well and independently.
With a chronic disease, you are in a different place than someone with an acute illness. You are the day-to-day manager of your condition. The first step is to learn everything you can about your disease, and what to expect. It’s important to know the ins-and-outs of your symptoms and their treatment.
LEMS is a very rare autoimmune disorder — there are only about 400 known cases in the U.S. — that affects the nerve cells controlling muscle movement. Muscle weakness, fatigue, eye problems, and pain are common symptoms of LEMS. Patients also experience progressive muscle weakness, which can lead to disability. Available treatments, however, can help patients live full lives.
Having a chronic illness adds stress to everyday life, especially if you are living alone. Sources of stress can include symptom discomfort, feelings of isolation, financial pressure, and uncertainty about the future.
Assessing your situation and developing a path forward can go a long way toward reducing stress. Encourage your family members to be involved, if possible, and develop open communication channels with your healthcare team. A financial advisor may also be of help.
Having someone legally in place who, if necessary, is able to make health and financial decisions on your behalf can also bring greater peace of mind.
Re-evaluate your location
If you wish to continue living on your own, it might make sense to move closer to family members who can help support you.
You may also want to consider residing in an area that offers reliable public transportation, particularly since LEMS patients experience fatigue and muscle weakness that can make walking difficult.
Take advantage of community resources
As LEMS progresses, everyday tasks can become a challenge. Speech, chewing, and swallowing can become problematic as well.
Tapping into local resources can help in addressing issues like transportation to a doctor’s appointment or getting groceries. There are government programs and services available that can help with daily life. Your local library may also have information about community resources.
Stay socially active
Even healthy people who live alone sometimes don’t thrive as well as others because of a tendency, especially with advancing age, toward social isolation. If you’re living alone and with a chronic condition, it’s important to your overall health and quality of life to stay socially engaged.
Particularly if close family is not nearby, it’s important that you have friends or neighbors who know about your condition and its symptoms, and can help you in case of an emergency. Such knowledge will also help your friends and colleagues be more understanding of disease-related absences from work, school, or social events.
Finally, consider finding a support group in your area or online for people with LEMS. Your healthcare provider may be able to help you locate one. Here, you can share experiences and connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
Get help with daily tasks
Because of your disease, you will likely sometimes need help with self-care tasks, household chores, or getting to appointments. Maintain a list of people you can ask for help.
If you don’t have someone to turn to, ask your provider or social worker about helpful services that may be available in your area. You may be eligible for meal delivery to your home, for example, or a home health aide.
Last updated: Oct. 12, 2020
Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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