Coping with the guilt of in absentia caregiving

One of the interesting observations, during our platform development stage, was the admission of “living-with-guilt”, which almost 99 % Non-Resident Indian (NRI) from Sydney to Singapore, New Jersey to London live with in connection with their parents living back home.


Considering over 99% of cases, parents of NRIs do not live with their children, the absolute number is a very big one. Size of the Indian diaspora is a whopping 31.7 million. Growing at 38% in countries like the US.   


Photo credit: Elder Care


Stringent visa norms and stay restrictions and so on add to the complications as Indians abroad feel that they are not doing enough for the people who raised them or are not doing the right things to improve their parents’ lives.


In reality, there is no real need to feel guilty, but it is a part and parcel of caregiving, even more so for remote caregivers. This feeling responsible for something that is not your fault or is beyond your control – like ageing – is called disproportionate guilt. It can be overwhelming, making people bitter and resentful. It is thus important to deal with this issue in a constructive manner.


Here are a few things you can do to overcome excessive feelings of guilt.


  • If you find yourself drowning by thoughts that you’re not doing enough for your parents, jot down all the positive things you’ve done. You’re human, and no one expects you to do everything to perfection.

  • Ignore judgements from others about your physical distance from your parents. It’s unlikely that it bothers your own parents.

  • Also, stop judging yourself about your caretaker abilities. This is just going to make you even more miserable.

  • Don’t bottle up these feelings of guilt. Talk to a friend you trust who can give you an unbiased view or to a professional who knows how to deal with disproportionate guilt.

  • Make time for yourself. Work and family can consume you, adding to your stress. Make sure you have activities and hobbies that help you unwind.


Photo: Elder Care


There are a couple of ways in which you can make sure that your parents are taken care of and keep the guilt at bay.


  • Stay in touch with your parents. Call them, text them, video chat with them frequently. This keeps them from feeling neglected and helps you find comfort in knowing they are doing okay.

  • Find an appropriately trained caregiver who can help out in your absence and also give you regular updates on how your parents are. Depending on the requirements, such caregivers could be in the form of in-home help or someone who drops in regularly to offer their services.


Last but not least, remember that you need to be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy to be there for your loved ones. Do things that make you happy, because ultimately, that’s what your parents also want for you.


Elder Care can help you find trained caregivers to assist your parents if you live abroad. Reach out to us to learn more about our range of services.

Team Elder Care

Elder Care supports parents of NRIs and members of Indian diaspora who are living back home in India in managing their independent living needs and at the times of medical emergencies.