If you are a caregiver helping someone you love go through a bone marrow or cord blood transplant (also called a BMT), you will have a lot to do. Let others help you when they can. There are some things only you can do — perhaps that is being there to listen on a bad day. But some things other people can do, such as cleaning the house or fixing a meal.
It is important to be willing to delegate some tasks to others as you and your loved one go through the transplant. A good first step is to make a list of tasks to be done. Then when friends and family ask how they can help, you will be ready to tell them. It is also a good idea to keep a schedule so that people do not duplicate efforts and you will know what help you can expect when. For a free, easy online tool to organize your family and friends who want to help, see Lotsa Helping Hands: http://www.marrow.lotsahelpinghands.com. With this private group Web calendar, people can see what help is needed and when, so everyone can pitch in to help make your loved one's life run more smoothly.
- Clean the house.
- Do laundry.
- Shop for groceries.
- Drive children to activities such as music lessons or sports events.
- Do yard work, such as mowing the lawn, shoveling snow or raking leaves.
- Return books, music and videos to the library and pick up new ones.
- Spend time with the transplant patient to give you a few hours of time to yourself.
- Wash the dishes.
- Prepare meals for the family.
- Drive children to school, sports practice or other activities.
- Help children with their homework.
- Tend to a garden.
- Walk the dog and/or do other pet care.
Asking for emotional support is important, too. You can ask friends and family to be a support network for you and the transplant patient. For example, it may help to get a daily phone call or e-mail from friends and family members. They can set up a schedule to make sure you hear from someone each day. You may also want to ask someone to be your advocate, just as you are being the patient's advocate. Your advocate can keep an eye on you and help make sure your needs are met.
Most often, one person acts as the transplant patient's primary caregiver. Sometimes no one is able to play this role full time. Instead, a group of people can work together as caregivers. When a group shares the caregiving role, organization and communication are keys to success. For one model of a way to organize a caregiving team, see www.sharethecare.org