The article ''Survival Versus Freedom: Patient Struggles in Dilemma'' {front page, Sept. 28} really hit close to home. Services to help the sick and the elderly are few and far between in the District. I have a relative who is now 80 and stricken with cancer. He has lived in the same house in the heart of Washington since he was born. He can no longer take care of himself, but he does not want the restrictions and the bills that a nursing home or a hospital would force on him. He is one of the lucky ones, though. He has a neighbor who, for minimum wages from my relative's family and an organization called Seniors and Companions Rescue League, comes over every day to take care of him.

Organizations like Seniors and Companions sound great in theory, but in practice they are less than perfect. There are so many people who need help that the waiting lists are endless. And once obtained, the services are only available for three to four weeks. After this help ends, where else can people go? If they leave their nursing homes or other institutions, they will be unable to take care of themselves properly. But as long as they are unable to live on their own, they will lead angry, frustrated, unhappy lives as ''prisoners.''

Independence is something most people in this country take for granted, but someday we will all be older and less capable of taking care of ourselves. Isn't there a way that the District can help the elderly without depriving them of their freedom?

MOLLY McCARTHY Davidsonville, Md.