"Transnational caregiving refers to the exchange of care and support across national boundaries.
This pilot project sought to examine transnational caregiving among Asian Indian elderly residing in India whose children resided outside India. A subgroup of Asian Indian elders whose children resided exclusively in India also participated in this study. This primarily helped define how similar or different the caregiving experience was based on whether children resided in India or outside India.
With the assistance of Silver Innings in Mumbai and Non‐Resident Indian Parents Association (NRIPA) in Bangalore, a total of 70 adults participated in this pilot project in Bangalore and Mumbai during 2010.
Individuals participated in either a focus group meeting, completed a survey, or an extended phone interview to capture some of their transnational caregiving experiences.
Initial analysis of the findings suggests the following:
1) Transnational caregiving involves reciprocal caregiving between Asian Indian adult children and parents. Such reciprocal caregiving also is evident among those whose children reside in India.
2) Caregiving by seniors involves frequent contact between generations, advice when sought by adult children, babysitting grandchildren, occasional financial assistance from parent to adult child.
3) Caregiving by adult children includes frequent contact initiated to parents, periodic visits, emergency crisis care, and support during bereavement. In this group that largely represented an educated group of middle‐class or higher seniors, remittances made by adult children to parents were negligible.
4) Transnational caregiving is complex as it involves many challenges such as time, money, health,work schedules, marital status, travel costs, visa limitations, competing familial obligations, etc. Caregiving by children within India also involved many of the same challenges, except visa limitations and travel costs.
5) Communication technology has enhanced intergenerational contact as evidenced by the use of Skype, email, webcams, etc.
6) Majority of the senior participants whose children resided outside India were living independently in their own homes, were educated, middle‐income category or higher, socially active, enjoyed good health, and preferred to keep 'intimacy at a distance' with their children. They themselves were not keen to live in multi‐generation households.
7) Whether children resided in or outside India, it was clear that many of them lived in small‐sized households with or without their spouse. Paid help was frequently used to address some of the daily household tasks.
In today's global economy, despite the separation caused by national borders and geographic distance, a great deal of emotional support, communication, exchange, and caregiving takes place between adults and their elderly parents. Day to day dependence on adult children (whether they lived in India or outside India) appeared to be limited. As one participant said, "Whether our children live in Kengeri , Tumkur, or USA, it really makes no difference in everyday living."
[The author gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance of Mr. M.R. Mahadevan (NRIPA, Bangalore) and Mr. Sailesh Mishra (Silver Innings, Mumbai) with the data collection process for this project]
A Pan India project will be done in near future."
By Jyotsna M. Kalavar, Ph.D. (Author)
Associate Professor, Human Development & Family Studies
Penn State University (New Kensington campus), USA