How To Effectively Help With Myasthenia Gravis In The Aging

Myasthenia Gravis

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Myasthenia Gravis-An increasingly common problem among the aging

Myasthenia Gravis is becoming an increasingly common problem among the elderly population. Earlier, it was a disease that affected more of the young generation. However, medical practitioners come across more cases of Myasthenia Gravis in older people.

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia Gravis is a type of neuromuscular disorder. It is caused by weakness in the skeletal muscles, which causes the voluntary muscles to undergo fatigue. It occurs when the communication channel between the muscles and nerves is damaged. There is no cure for Myasthenia Gravis. But with regular treatment, the symptoms can be controlled.

Myasthenia Gravis in the elderly

As explained earlier, Myasthenia Gravis was originally a disease of a young person. However, the disease haunts more men aged 60 years and above yearly. It is a rare but severe condition regarding symptoms and treatment options. The elderly who fall prey to the state have difficulty fighting the disease. Caregivers can take steps to help their loved ones live a healthy life with Myasthenia Gravis.

Understanding Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disorder, chronic. It occurs due to poor transmission of nerve impulses, causing muscle weakness. Our muscle movement depends on chemical signals we receive from the nerves. These chemical signals from the nerves cause the nerve endings to release a chemical. This is acetylcholine, the receptor site present at the nerve-muscular junction. The chemical then binds to special acetylcholine receptors present in the muscle cells. This will cause them to contract. This entire set of events does not occur in individuals with Myasthenia Gravis. Antibodies produced by the body damage the receptor sites. This is because Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system produces antibodies that attack its healthy cells. They think they are foreign bodies. As a result, about 80% of the receptors have damage due to this phenomenon. It is favoring the development of muscle weakness and other associated symptoms.

What triggers such an autoimmune response is still unknown.

However, researchers believe that our thymus gland may have an important role to play. This gland is in the chest, above the heart, and has a notable role in our immunity in the early years of our life. In individuals with Myasthenia Gravis, this thymus gland appears abnormal in 10–15% of the cases. Also, they have a benign tumor in the gland.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis

The primary symptom of Myasthenia Gravis is the weakening of the muscles. Which occurs due to the failure of the forces to respond to the nerve impulses. The muscles do not contract and give rise to the following set of symptoms in older people:
  • Muscle weakness that worsens as the day progresses
  • Difficulty in talking
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Paralysis of the muscles of the face, causing changes in facial expression
  • Development of ptosis, characterized by drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty in chewing as well as swallowing food
  • The limb and neck muscles are also affected, causing your elderly to waddle while walking.
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath

Steps to help your elderly deal with Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis is a debilitating condition. It affects the quality of life of our elderly loved ones. Caregivers have an essential role in caring for their loved ones. While adhering to treatment methods can help in controlling the condition. Follow these preventive measures:
  • Allow your loved one to rest and prevent them from overusing their weakened muscles.
  • Do not expose your loved one to extreme temperatures. Excessive heat or cold can worsen the condition.
  • Preventing them from infections is one of the significant risk factors for Myasthenia Gravis. It is best to get them vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza.
  • Patients with Myasthenia Gravis can be allergic to certain prescription medications. This can worsen their condition quickly. Therefore, it is always best to watch their body’s reaction to the prescribed medications.
  • Keep them away from stress, which can also worsen the condition.
  • Consult the doctor before giving them any over-the-counter drugs. For example, if your loved one suffers from a cough and cold, do not give them any OTC drugs. Common cough and cold medications contain quinine, which can adversely affect patients with Myasthenia Gravis.

Myasthenia Gravis affects the ability to swallow and chew food.

Therefore, you need to be very careful while offering them food. Nature and the temperature of the food would play an important role. Here are specific points that you would need to take care of:
  • Avoid three large meals a day. Instead, give them small and frequent meals.
  • Pay special attention to the temperature of the food. It should neither be too hot nor too cold. Serve them warm meals. Make sure you make them drink water in between.
  • If you are serving them meat, then make sure you cook it well. This is because chewing becomes a difficulty for your elderly loved one. Also, break down into small pieces, making it easier for them to chew.
  • Do not serve them spicy foods.
  • Ask your elderly loved one to chew slowly and rest in between. Please do not allow them to overuse their jaw muscle; it can be dangerous.
  • It may be difficult for your elderly to chew fruits and vegetables. Therefore, giving them fruit juices and adequately cooking the vegetables is best.
  • Exercise is essential for your loved one. However, exerting their muscles too much would never be wise enough. Your loved one is prone to weight gain due to the medications for Myasthenia Gravis. And therefore a little exercise each day is necessary to keep their weight under control.
  • There may be times when your elderly will not want help. In such conditions, respect their decision and take a back step. However, you must be vigilant and help whenever they cannot manage alone. Your loved ones should learn to accept help; however, there may be times when they are reluctant to do so.

Additional Education

Education in caregiving refers to acquiring the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to provide care for individuals who require assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming. This education can be obtained through formal programs or on-the-job training and experience. Education in caregiving aims to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide high-quality, compassionate care for those in need.

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Compassionate Caregiving


In conclusion, being a family caregiver for a loved one with Myasthenia Gravis requires compassion and dedication. As this condition affects the neuromuscular system and can significantly impact daily life, caregivers play an integral role in ensuring their loved one’s comfort and well-being. By understanding the autoimmune nature of Myasthenia Gravis and its potential effects on muscle strength, caregivers can tailor their support to address specific needs.

Caregivers should prioritize communication with healthcare professionals to stay informed about the latest treatments and management strategies. Adhering to medication schedules, advocating for necessary adjustments, and monitoring any potential side effects are essential to providing comprehensive care. Moreover, creating a safe and comfortable environment, considering factors such as temperature sensitivity and infection prevention, can significantly contribute to their loved one’s overall quality of life.

Balancing physical assistance with emotional support is crucial. Encouraging loved ones to accept help while respecting their autonomy helps foster a sense of dignity and empowerment. Meal planning, adapting diets to accommodate chewing and swallowing difficulties, and incorporating appropriate exercise routines can improve their well-being.

As a caregiver, your dedication can significantly enhance the lives of those affected by Myasthenia Gravis. Remember that each person’s experience with the condition is unique, and your flexibility and adaptability in addressing individual needs are invaluable. By remaining vigilant, informed, and compassionate, you play a vital role in easing the challenges posed by Myasthenia Gravis and promoting a better quality of life for your loved one.

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