Since sickle cell disease is a chronic condition, caregivers play an integral role in helping patients manage the disease, as well as providing support for them.
Caregivers are encouraged to accompany their loved ones to their doctor visits and should become thoroughly educated about the disease and the patient’s treatment plan, so they can provide advice and help with medication management.
Symptomatic episodes of sickle cell disease, such as severe pain crises, are often triggered by factors such as changes in weather, psychosocial stressors, infections, smoking, inadequate hydration and lack of rest. With this in mind, caregivers should encourage their patients to practice proper lifestyle modifications to avoid these triggers, such as layering clothing during the winter months and drinking plenty of fluids.
When sickle cell disease patients reach the age of 18, they transition from the care of their pediatrician to a primary care doctor or sickle cell disease specialist.
This is a time when caregivers play an especially important role, as they can help guide younger patients through this transition period.
Here in the community, Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center has implemented a program called “Bridging the Gap between Pediatric & Adult Care” to help make sure this is a smooth transition for sickle cell patients throughout the area. The Center will hold an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 28, for new, transitioning patients and their families and/or caregivers to come meet the Center’s medical team and set up initial appointments.
The Open House will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center (509 N. Elam Ave. Suite 3E). RSP to EMLSCCSupport@conehealth.com.
Winnie Troxler is a registered nurse case manager at Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center. Troxler received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Winston Salem State University in 2009 and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from North Carolina A&T University in 2009.