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Resource Guide for Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant
The Role of the Caregiver
During the transplant process, you will need at least one family member or a friend who can provide you with emotional and physical support. This person is often referred to as a caregiver. In many cases, it will only be possible for you to have one caregiver with you during the week. If this is the case, you may consider arranging alternate caregiver support during weekends so that the caregiving task does not fall on just one person. Ideally, however, you may be able to arrange to have more than one caregiver as the role can be very demanding.
Even though many people successfully make it through the transplant with only one caregiver, having two or more caregivers is an advantage. This allows each caregiver a time to rest and return to the hospital more refreshed. Since caregivers may experience a high degree of anxiety, sharing the responsibility of caring for you can serve to alleviate some of the tension. Finally, having more than one caregiver provides a safeguard in the event that a caregiver gets sick and is unable to be on the transplant unit.
Your caregivers are very actively involved during the pre-transplant and posttransplant process. Their responsibility after discharge from the hospital significantly increases as they are required to alter their lifestyle and needs to assist you. It is important that caregivers are provided emotional support and monitored for signs of distress and fatigue. The role of a caregiver may include (according to "Patient and Caregiver Manual," Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Transplant Program):
Knowing that your caregiver is well prepared for his/her responsibilities may give you greater confidence. Organizations exist that support caregiver needs, and it may be worth the time to contact these groups. Sharing unique concerns with other caregivers and receiving mutual support can help. Check if caregiver discussion groups are offered at the transplant center. This is a good place to voice concerns and get practical suggestions about caregiver responsibilities. Caregivers wonít want to burden the patient with additional problems, and these groups may provide needed support for them (see Resource Listing).
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