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How NRIs are turning into long-distance caregivers for their parents in India

Bharat Vasandani, Founder, ParentCare

They say that a coin has two sides to it and this holds true for the NRI life as well.

I left India for the UK nearly 5 years ago and based on my experience I can say that a NRI’s life also has two sides to it- career gains and personal pains.

The shift from India to another country opens the door to global opportunities but we do leave behind weary-eyed parents who are not in their youth anymore. This creates a feeling of guilt where NRIs believe that we ideally should have been with our parents, providing care- we call this the NRI Guilt.

Over the last year, I have been speaking to a number of NRIs in the UK, USA, and South-East Asia, on what approach they generally take when their parents in India need medical help. Most of the NRIs have not given this a thorough thought. The most common answer that I came across was that we will cross the bridge when we reach the stage. The other common answer was that they would look at help from their family & friends. But, if one looks at the social changes occurring in India today we realise that our family & friends are leading a very busy life. They will be open to help our parents for a day or so but not on a regular basis. It is not that they do not want to, but everybody is caught in life’s vicious circle.

Leaving parents to manage their own healthcare treatment is not without challenges. Some medical treatments are also quite strenuous, draining the elderly emotionally and physically. At a time when parents need to support each other, one of the parents is busy managing the different medical services that need to be coordinated, managing professional life and also the housework.

Some NRIs do try their to support their parents from across borders, especially when there is no other help available on the ground– turning into a long-distance caregiver. So, a devoted daughter or a son will arrange and coordinate a range of medical services for their parents, manage utilities and other everyday bills, provide emotional support and keep family & friends informed. But long-distance caregiving is not without its own set of challenges. Caregivers start living two lives — one in the new chosen country and the other for your parents managing a lot of responsibilities in India. In managing so many responsibilities across time zones, the caregiver misses out on some important family time and the ability to connect with family on a deeper level.

With a community of more than 17 million, it is surprising that the Indian diaspora has not got the required support from the Indian medical & healthcare industry. What can help to make this long-distance caregiving less stressful and simpler?

We will be happy to learn about your experience of providing care to your parents in India, as an NRI. The idea is to share and learn from each other so that we can together make long-distance caregiving simpler.

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