How Narcolepsy Can Impact Patients Ability to Work?

Narcoleptics is often associated with various psychosocial stresses that are grave and this can be experienced prior or after the prognosis. Because of this, patients can often show signs of embarrassment, decline in results and loss of self-confidence at times. These are amongst the associated symptoms that are seen with the disease.

When this illness is not diagnosed in the right manner, it may result in underestimation of potential as well as following an improper medication by the individual. Narcoleptics that affect adults often face troubles in their workplace. This may be due to the anxiety that may be faced due to the fear of losing income or a job or sometimes on other realistic situations.

Minor mishaps at home or while driving as well as at the workplace can be increased. At such times, the sufferers and the associated members also become extremely concerned for safety. Difficulties in married life and psychopathology can also occur at frequent rates.

Impact of Narcolepsy

The impact of Narcolepsy in deteriorating the quality of life is found similar in all the cultures and individuals. These effects are an intrinsic part of the disorder. The impact on the socioeconomic life is general and can be severe as compared to the forms of epilepsy.

The difficulties associated with narcolepsy do not end with diagnosis and effective treatment. There are associated problems with family and pharmacists, which is often due to the stimulants that are found in the disorder. Drowsiness can also be a part of the symptoms, which often creates troubles in the workplace.

The use of stimulants may cause various side effects and this can be another problem that might be difficult to handle. Chances are that the families might estrange the patient when they are not willing to accept the situation that is prevailing.

Not everyone may be comfortable speaking about their narcoleptic issues with the employer. Nevertheless, those who do can find a way to tackle the issues and concentrate on solving them before any issues arise.

Mental alertness that is often needed at work can be easily improved by taking medications at the right time and getting a good night’s sleep. When in need, it is also advisable to take naps at regular intervals.

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, the employees have to be helped in fulfilling their work related obligations by their employers.

Managing the condition becomes easy when an individual understands the symptoms and maintains a bridge of communication with the employers. There is no one side approach available in this case and you might have to speak about the issues to your supervisors at the right time. The employer can send the employee for short naps and later the employee can fill the hours that he or she spent napping during the work hours. When this disorder is not disclosed in an open manner, the employers might misunderstand and record it as lack of motivation or disinterest in work.

Notifying The Employers About Your Situation:

People often feel nervous when the narcolepsy has to be discussed in the open air. At such times, mentioning about the condition in an informal manner to the employer is the right alternative. Once a good understanding is established, it will be easier for you to tackle all the symptoms that pop up while you are working. Not all the employers are aware about narcolepsy and you can give them a detailed explanation about the disorder. Offer them referrals that explain about the condition along with a written letter from your specialist that explains about your diagnosis as well as associated symptoms.

Be sure to keep details about the amendments and accommodations that you will have to do while at work. This may involve taking a nap time during the work hours and discussing it with the employers in an open manner. At times, you can disclose your accommodations to the supervisor or the human resources department that manages your account in the workplace.

Educating Co Workers:

Speaking about the condition to the co-workers can be a difficult task to perform. There are instances that a person might have misconceptions about the condition, so try to resolve them. Educate the colleagues about narcolepsy and its effects along with the associated symptoms like cataplexy and somnolence. Establish a rapport with the co-workers and develop a sense of trust as well as respect in a supportive manner.

Working on Your Alertness:

Your mental alertness can be improved by trying the following things:

  • Optimize the dose and the time of medicines that have to be consumed with the help of your physician.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and always remember the effects of late night sleeping and it is best to get enough sleep while you can.
  • Consult your employer regarding the condition and seek his or her permission for a nap time during the work hours.
  • When your mind is alert, focus on tasks that are less tiring and do not work your brains out.
  • You can stay awake and active by keeping the premises cool and taking a stroll after an interval time of 20 minutes or so.

Accommodating Employees With Narcolepsy: Tips for Employers

Note: People who are suffering from sleep disorders can show certain limitations that are mentioned below, but they do not suffer from all of them. Variations in the degree of limitation may be observed depending on the individuals. It should be noted that while some may need assistance many might only require certain accommodations for adjusting to the conditions. The following sample offers the right solution and there may be other solutions available as well.

Questions to be acknowledged by the Employer:

  • What are the limitations experienced by the employee suffering from a sleep disorder like narcolepsy?
  • How is the performance of the employee affected by such limitations?
  • Which jobs can be difficult to perform when such limitations occur?
  • What accommodations have to be made in alleviating the problems? Are the resources sufficient to make the adjustments?
  • Have you consulted the employee regarding narcolepsy and necessary accommodations?
  • Would it be useful to consult the employee and know about the accommodations that are offered? Are there any additional accommodations needed?
  • Do other employees and the supervisor require additional training regarding narcolepsy?

Accommodation Plans:

Day Time Fatigue:

  • A device like Doze Alert or various alarms may be used to keep the employee most vigilant
  • Add frequent breaks and allot smaller tasks
  • Shift the duty hours to the time when the employee is more alert.

Maintaining Single-Mindedness:

  • Spacious enclosures or a private cubicle should be provided at the work place
  • Adopt natural lighting and offer an option for full spectrum lighting
  • Avoid confusions in the work environment of the employee
  • Make plans for uninterrupted work place and time
  • Segregate the smaller tasks by breaking the larger ones
  • Rearrange the tasks for easy functioning and management
  • The employee should be allowed to listen to the music when in need

Remembrance Problems:

  • Post instructions with the help of equipments that are frequently used
  • The employee should be allowed to record the instructions or verbal meetings that are held
  • Provide checklists for easy task handling
  • Additional time for training when new aspects are introduced
  • Offer verbal as well as written instructions
  • For retrieving the information that has been recorded, keep calendars, notebooks or sticky notes with you at all times.

Attendance Problems:

  • Offer a flexible timing for beginning or ending the day
  • When in need, offer a part time schedule for working
  • Provide an option for flexible shifts

Deteriorating Endurance:

  • Offer a schedule that is flexible.
  • Grant an allowance for taking frequent breaks.
  • Give sufficient time to learn new tasks and adopt responsibilities.
  • Arrange a coverage or backup when the employee takes breaks at regular intervals.
  • Reorganize the jobs that have been assigned to the employee.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 18, 2019

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