Give Caregivers a Break


As President of the Well Spouse Association, a group offering peer support to spousal caregivers, I wish to comment on the findings Dr. Cynthia Gries made about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affecting caregivers ["Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers,"].

Dr. Gries's study looked at caregivers of lung-transplant patients. It was not stated, but many of these would be spousal caregivers. I would add that, in our experience, PTSD affects long-term caregivers of people with many conditions. For example, WSA members are looking after spouses with MS, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson's, cancer, spinal cord injuries and many other conditions and disabilities. Many spouses do the caregiving for years on end. They feel like they are in a war against illness—and yes, depression and PTSD are common. One of the most important things that could be done right now, is for Congress to authorize 2008-2009 funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Act. Passed in Dec. 2006, this act has not yet been funded. Money would go to all states, to implement or improve on respite care facilities, that would allow caregivers to afford to take regular breaks, while being assured that their loved one was being given good care in the home or in a temporary institutional placement.

Richard Anderson

Well Spouse Association
Freehold, N.J.