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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Informal caregiving from the perspectives of older people living alone in India

Gustafsson, Lena-Karin; Morell, Ildiko Asztalos; Johansson, Carl; De Ray, Santa


Background: The cultural and social norms in India stipulate that family and preferably children of the older person, provide the support and care that is needed. In recent years, we have witnessed an overall upsurge in interest in informal care from all countries in the developed world considering their ageing populations. The older people living alone group is, especially interesting in this matter, since it seems to deviate from the expectations of extended family living.Objective: The aim was to describe older persons' experiences of informal care when living alone in India.Methods: The study has a hermeneutic design, analysing interviews of older persons living alone in India.Results: Findings revealed informal care as the thematic patterns: Informal care as a fundamental human responsibility, an obligation and thereby a way to act in 'common sense'. It was a way of 'paying-back' care that they had received from others in their life history, motivated by governmental care was not presented as an option. Informal care also created safety by the provision of alert and actionable care by loved ones, including spatial safety. Most of the informants experienced themselves as informal caregivers assisting others in need even if they themselves were old and fragile. Providing self care was also seen as a part of informal care conducted by capable and worthy persons. They also pointed out their own obligation to seek informal care and even to listen to the suggestions of younger generations regarding the type and scope of care.Conclusions/Implications for practice: Informal care in India is not only dependent on having children who ensure that you receive the care you need. Extended family, neighbours and friends feel a basic human obligation to care for the older people in their environment. This responsibility is deeply rooted even within the older people who become fragile in old age.


community; hermeneutics; informal care; older people; social networking

Published in

International Journal of Older People Nursing
2022, volume: 17, number: 6, article number: e12468
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Gustafsson, Lena-Karin
Malardalen University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Mälardalen University
Johansson, Carl
Mälardalen University
Ray, Santa De
Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University

Associated SLU-program

SLU Future One Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Gerontology, specialising in Medical and Health Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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