Last Updated on July 12, 2021 by The Health Master
India has over 4 million people living with dementia and more than 70% of caregiving responsibility falls on women caregivers. However, juggling between roles of a mother, wife, daughter and professional, as well as standing up to traditional societal norms and expectations can be doubly challenging.
As one caregiver mentions, ‘It is annoying that society expects only sons can provide care, and constantly questions decisions made by women. This has to change. We need to build more support systems for women caregivers.’
Dementia is a degenerative condition and watching a capable parent or spouse become dependent for basic needs like feeding, bathing and toileting is emotionally draining and physically challenging. A recent survey by Help Age India across 20 cities, on role of family in caregiving showed that female caregivers outnumbered men when it came to providing physical care for activities of daily living (ADL), e.g., support for bathing and toileting.
This is often due to financial constraints and without adequate support from other family members. Sometimes despite being the primary caregivers they have little role in making the decisions for their loved ones.
Research has shown women caregivers often feel frustrated and overwhelmed ignoring these signs of caregiver burden. When we spoke to women carers and asked then how they manage their caregiving responsibilities most of them acknowledged that acceptance and support from family is very important in the journey.
Many also pointed to the importance of making sure they have their ‘Me time’ and ensuring regular self-care, including indulging in their hobbies or other pleasurable activities. As a caregiver it is important to express yourself and ask for help to cope with this role. Seeking support for caregiving responsibilities from family, friends and professionals is critical.
A study by Samvedna Senior Care found that 67% of primary caregivers were women above the age of 56 years highlighting that they themselves are ageing whilst having to take care of an ailing relative. There are a few support groups for caregivers which help them talk about their challenges of being a caregiver, however even these, are not widely accessible.
Women like men should not have to give up their professional or personal identities due to caregiving responsibilities. The need of the hour is to establish adequate social support infrastructure to support these women caregivers. Infrastructure should provide facilities and services to help women caregivers in their caregiving role whilst also being able to take care of their own health.
By Dr. Jayashree Dasgupta
Co-Founder & Project Director, Samvedna Senior Care
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and The Health Master does not necessarily subscribe to it. The Health Master shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.