dementia caregiving in India, some preliminary thoughts…
March 9, 2009 12 Comments
(As this blog entry received both online and offline feedback, and as its content is very relevant for anyone who wants to understand the cultural context of dementia care in India, I have moved the content to a page so that I can keep updating it based on comments received. You can see the page here: The Cultural Context of India and its Impact on Dementia Care.
A lot of people talk of how countries like India have more family values than other countries, and how elders are more valued, cared for and respected here. While many countries end up spending a lot in institutional care facilities for the aging population, this cost is relatively low in India where most families look after their own.
As I see it, there are plus and minus points of every society, and while our setting works well in some ways, I think we should not ignore the problems it can result in. (Note, I am not a sociologist or counselor or any such thing, just an ordinary caregiver sharing my opinion.)
In India, children live with their parents, and their children with them (Going two, three, even four generations). While in many countries a son or daughter living with parents past the age of eighteen can cause a few raised eyebrows, and a married son or daughter staying with parents is far from common, here it is assumed that children will stay with their parents as far as possible. You stay with your parents as a child, as a youngster, as a college student, and after employment, if you are in the same town. You try to be in the same town. After marriage, the son stays with the parents, and the daughter-in-law moves in too, adjusting to the in-laws (food, dress, TV programs, schedule of day, way of talking, etcetera). A daughter, conversely, moves out after marriage to her in-laws place. This is normal. If the employed son is in another city, well, he has to live separately, but he is expected to try and find a job in the same city. Sometimes sons live separately even when in the same city as their parents, but they have to always justify to others why they do so🙂 .
As the parents age and retire/ fall ill (say, first heart-attack, first stroke, first stent operation), even if they were living separately, they move in with the children (or the children move in with them). Usually, when there is more than one son, the eldest son is the privileged person to get the parents.
(The above is just an excerpt. Read the full entry here: The Cultural Context of India and its Impact on Dementia Care.
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