Living alone and cancer

If you have cancer, and live alone, you may be worried how you’ll manage during and after treatment.

The information on this page will help you to find out more about living alone with cancer. There are tips to help you maintain your independence, manage day-to-day and how Maggie51ɫAPPs can help.

Can I manage on my own?

Yes. It will take some extra planning and working out who can support you but it's possible to continue living alone when you have cancer.

Having cancer and going through treatment raises many challenges and emotions. These may be harder to deal with when you live alone.

Even if you're used to being independent, absorbing information about your cancer, managing day-to-day and dealing with emotions can be overwhelming or frightening.

However, there are lots of ways to make things easier emotionally and practically. Even if you live by yourself, it doesn't mean you have to go through cancer alone.

It's important to let your healthcare team know that you live by yourself. They can then make sure you're well supported and work out with you when you might need help from others.

Emotions when you live alone

Living alone when you have cancer can feel lonely and isolating at times and you may feel more vulnerable than usual.

You might also experience low mood, feel withdrawn, or worry about how you'll manage during and after treatment.

There are many ways to manage emotions when you have cancer. When you live alone it can also help to:

  • Let people know
    Choose trusted family and friends to talk to regularly about your cancer and treatment. This may feel intrusive if you’re a private person, but it can be reassuring when other people know what's going on, even if they don't live close to you
  • Tell your healthcare team
    If you feel like you're struggling, talk with your doctor or specialist nurse as they can offer you additional support or change your treatment or medications to make things easier
  • Stay connected socially
    You may find you're home alone more than usual. It's useful to think of ways to continue social contact or activities you usually enjoy with friends and colleagues
  • Join a support group
    It can help to talk to others in the same situation who will understand what you're going through. Get in touch with  Maggie's to find out more about support and networking groups

Managing practically when you live alone

Some days you'll feel like you can manage fine by yourself. However, there will be times during and after treatment, where you'll find things easier if others can help.

There are many ways to manage practically when you have cancer. When you live alone it can also help to:

  • Make sure you have enough supplies
    Fill up the freezer for days when you don't feel like cooking. Book supermarket delivery slots in advance or arrange for someone to do your shopping, so you know you won't run out of food and household products
  • Know who to call
    Have a list of important phone numbers in your mobile, or by the house phone. These could be your healthcare team or friends and family
  • Understand your treatment schedule
    Set reminders for appointments and make a note of times you need to take any medications and when you might run out
  • Get help with money worries
    If you're worried about money or your ability to work there are allowances and grants available to help. Speak to a Benefits Advisor at your nearest Maggie's to find out what you're entitled to and for help making a claim
  • Plan for days when you might not feel well
    Ask your healthcare team if there are times during your treatment that they'd advise having someone to stay with you or check on you more often. Let family and friends know not to call at times when you might be resting
  • Accept offers of help
    Don't take on everything yourself. Work out what others could do and accept and ask for help. It might be housework, helping with meals, childcare, driving you to and from hospital or picking up prescriptions
  • Ask about local voluntary help
    Check with your healthcare team if there are any organisations in your local area that offer practical help for people who live alone

How Maggie's can help

We're here, in our centres, on the phone and by email to talk about the challenges of living alone when you have cancer.

Our Benefits Advisors are also here to talk through any money worries that you may have.

51ɫAPP your nearest Maggie's for details of how to get in touch.

Last review: Mar 2022 | Next review: Mar 2022

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