Rees et al identified problems faced by a person providing chronic care to a spouse or partner. These can cause the caregiver distress and a decline in the quality of life. Recognition of the problems allows for interventions that can improve outcomes for both partners. The authors are from Taunton and Somerset Hospital in England, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the University of Bristol.


Psychological problems for the caregiver:

(1) worry about the future

(2) anxiety and/or depression

(3) worrying about the partner's suffering

(4) worrying about causing a recurrence or relapse

(5) coping with changes in the partner's personality


Social problems for the caregiver:

(1) deterioration in relationship with the partner

(2) deterioration in the sex life with the partner

(3) social isolation


Physical problems for the caregiver:

(1) fatigue

(2) sleep deprivation

(3) physical overexertion, especially in the elderly


Other problems:

(1) financial difficulties

(2) needing to care for others

(3) needing to make difficult decisions about the partner's care



(1) The quality of life for the caregiver is often worse than that of the patient.

(2) Caregivers often experience major depression, which may be masked.

(3) The cumulative stress can eventually result in deterioration of the relationship.


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