Do you have a friend or family member who is preparing for a transplant? Here are six key pieces of advice for caregivers and supporters from Laurie McDonald, a clinic social worker and case manager for the UNC Center for Transplant Care.
Ask the person what he or she needs. Don’t assume you already know.
Be involved with the person’s care team. I love when I see a whole group of people come to a patient’s evaluation. They all get to learn about the process together, and identify where they can fit in and help.
Your loved one will need emotional, physical and financial support. Every person must find the way they can contribute most based on interests, skills and comfort levels. One person shouldn’t (and can’t) do it all.
Prepare for some surprises. Support networks are not always what you’d expect. Long-time friends may falter while people who are barely acquaintances step forward and come through.
A real challenge after transplant is dealing with medications and their side effects. Your loved one’s mood might be all over the place. Don’t take irritability and other side effects personally. Develop a protective skin.
Find your own outlets and support networks. Everyone needs a break.