Long-distance caregiving for a parent with dementia (case study)

daughter and son with their father in india

With this article, we want to break the myth that external help is only needed for NRIs whose parents live alone.

About Deepali’s family situation

Deepali Mishra’s father, aged 77, suffers from dementia. He lives in Mumbai while Deepali resides in the USA. 

Deepali’s brother (Deepak) also lives in Mumbai but he has a separate house a little further away from their family home. He has his own family. 

Due to a busy schedule, Deepak had been unable to visit his father often. In this scenario, Deepali and her brother were finding it difficult to cater to their father’s needs or to even understand his needs properly.

About dementia and how it affects the elderly 

Despite what some people might think, dementia is not a normal part of the ageing process. It’s abnormal degeneration of the brain which causes changes in the person’s ability to think and speak. Some of the symptoms might include:

  • memory loss
  • loss of understanding or judgment
  • decreased ability to make decisions
  • changes in how the person expresses their emotions
  • changes in personality
  • problems coping with daily routines
  • problems with speech and understanding language
  • problems socializing.

Naturally, when the disease affects your loved ones, you feel helpless. At the same time, it might be very hard to admit that your parents are not capable of managing their daily routines without external help. 

As someone who is not equipped with medical knowledge, the NRI and their relatives might struggle to understand the needs of the affected elderly.

How Deepali approached the issue of dementia 

Deepali’s family tried to approach doctors in India but didn’t find it very helpful. Unlike other diseases, dementia patient needs the family to find new ways of interacting with them, which was not properly explained by busy doctors. 

Deepali was the first to accept that the family needed external help to support their father. ParentCare was recommended to her by a friend who had used ParentCare’s services in Pune. 

On the first call with ParentCare’s founder Bharat, Deepali was assured that the ParentCare team would be working from her side, instead of selling her services. She could customise the support they needed based on her father’s needs that were changing every day. The initial tasks for the family were as follows: 

  1. To better understand their father’s needs
  2. Find a care attendant to support on an everyday basis 
  3. To arrange some errands 

First steps to help Deepali’s father 

1. ParentCare arranged a call with a dementia-focused caring team who explained to the family the approach needed for a family member who suffers from dementia. This was a big help that many affected families don’t always consider. After a couple of consultations, Deepali and her loved ones could change their approach, resulting in a lot of relief and peace in the house. 

2. ParentCare then onboarded a care attendant for 12-hour daily shifts. Deepak got his father moved to his house but still needed a caregiver who could attend to his father’s needs on an everyday basis. 

3. While the care attendant was experienced in geriatric care, his exposure to dementia care was limited. ParentCare arranged dementia training for the care attendant as well which helped the caregiver improve his services.

Results: how the situation has improved

Now three months down the line, the family find the care attendant invaluable. Their father feels happier throughout the day, goes for walks and sleeps well. The care attendant prepares a daily report for the family, and Deepali gets all updates on WhatsApp. She does not need to disturb Deepak for smaller tasks. 

With Deepak being busy with his work and family, he regularly asks ParenCare for support with doctor appointments, diagnostic tests and GP home visits. This allows Deepak the time to be with his father instead of coordinating appointments. 

The family clears payment via credit card with the bills being shared equally between the brother and the sister. 

According to Deepali, people in Indian metros live busy lives and it gets difficult to manage everything plus spend time with family. Without ParentCare’s help, Deepak would not have been able to arrange, and coordinate all this care and also spend time with our father. 

“He thanks me for bringing ParentCare into the picture. I believe it was not easy for him to admit that help was required, but I see value in saving time to focus on far bigger tasks on hand”. – Deepali, the USA

If you have any specific requirements or need to arrange a few things at the same time, we are always here to help you via our 24/7 WhatsApp chatbot. ParentCare combines a range of services under one umbrella and makes them more accessible to NRIs, from follow-up communications with your parents’ doctors to credit card payments available. 

ParentCare has been developed to simplify long-distance caregiving for NRIs through technology and customer care while decreasing the cost compared to regular subscription models. 

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