Social support is protective in many diseases, including cancer, in which married patients had a longer mean survival time than those who were single. The same holds true in multiple sclerosis. Patients living alone had higher disability scores, took a longer time to complete the 25-foot timed walk, a good test of motor function. The social support provided by a partner also leads to increased compliance with medication and psychological well-being. Males living alone had worse levels of disability than females living alone. Studies have shown that women usually have larger social networks and may thus need less caregiver support than men.
Jack Florin, MD
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