Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Transnational Support of Asian Indian Elderly in India: Examining Patterns of Exchanges

Academic journal article Care Management Journals

Transnational Support of Asian Indian Elderly in India: Examining Patterns of Exchanges

Article excerpt

Using a mixed methods approach, the provision of support exchanges between family members across national borders was examined. Specifically, this project examined transnational support among Asian Indian elderly residing in India whose children resided outside India. Seventy adults participated in this project in the cities of Bangalore and Mumbai. Individuals participated in either a focus group meeting or completed a survey to examine their transnational family support experiences. Most seniors were educated, of middle-income category or higher, socially active, enjoyed good health, and were not keen to live in multigeneration households. Survey findings suggest that transnational care is reciprocal in nature and that communication technology has enhanced intergenerational contact. The older adults' report of support exchanges provided and received between generations showed significant differences on certain types of support. Undoubtedly, in today's rapidly growing global economy, a great deal of emotional support, communication, and exchanges takes place between adults and their elderly parents across national borders.

Keywords: transnational support; elderly in India; immigration; communication technology; family care; intergenerational relations

Increasing longevity and rapid globalization have spawned the emergence of transnational families. Transnational families are increasingly common as some family members migrate and leave others in the country of origin but still retain ties with each other (Lunt, 2009; Zechner, 2008). Although similar to an immigrant family in that they have both crossed international borders, the key difference lies in the separation of the family across borders (Cho, Chen, & Shin, 2010). Because in large part of global capitalism, this type of living arrangement has become increasingly common around the world (Spring, 2008). In 2013, Asians represented the largest diaspora group residing outside their major area of birth. Within Asia, foreign-born from Southern Asia were estimated to be 23 million and most likely to reside outside their region of birth (United Nations, 2014, p. 3). Each year, more than 5 million people travel across international borders to live in a developed country (Klugman, 2009, p. 9). As a result, new transnational family constellations are formed that affect many people in both source and destination nations, particularly in matters of caregiving.

China and India have repeatedly been acknowledged as nations with huge migration numbers. In the United States alone, Asian Indians are now the second largest group of Asian immigrants after Chinese immigrants (New America Media, 2011). Nearly 87% of these Asian Indian immigrants are foreign-born. The United States Census Bureau (2011a, 2011b) data suggest that there are 2.8 million Asian Indians in the United States; of them, nearly 60% are in the age range of 25-54 years. Young working professionals who arrive in the United States often leave behind their parents in India. Miltiades (2002) argued that the experience of parents left behind when their adult children emigrated has been a neglected topic in all immigrant groups. We know very little about how migrants and their elderly kin exchange care across national borders (Climo, 1992).

A significant component of transnational care is financial remittances sent to the home countries in the form of products or money (Dhar, 2011). Although at a distance, adult children communicate and visit, send financial assistance, and provide caregiving support to aging parents in myriad ways. And, sometimes, parents also do the same. Nowadays, new communication technologies play an important role in maintaining and enhancing transnational family relations. The use of communication technology has become a common tool of everyday life among many transnational families (Asis, Huang, & Yeoh, 2004; Levitt, 2001). Nevertheless, transnational caregiving involves the constraints of time, money, stage in the family life cycle, health, work schedule, competing household obligations, cultural obligations, crisis care, visa limitations, travel costs, disparities in telecommunication infrastructures, and mismatched expectations. …

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