08.02.03. What are the social norms and traditions of family care? Are there gender roles associated with family care? | India

08.02.03. What are the social norms and traditions of family care? Are there gender roles associated with family care? | India

08 Jul 2022

Unpaid carers are those who provide care on a regular basis (i.e., family members) and are often closely related to the person with dementia. Spouses, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and parents are the usual caregivers (informal caregivers) (Brodaty and Donkin, 2009). In traditional Indian culture, young adults of child-bearing age, earn and save for their children’s future. The assets gained are utilised for their children’s education, marriage expenses and subsequent costs associated. In this process they often fail to save for their old age. However, it is understood that their children will take care of them as they age. According to Gupta (2009), this understanding arises from the cultural concept of “dharma” (duty) (pp.1042), which emphasises upon this “moral duty” (pp.1042) of adult children to provide care and support for their elderly parents and in-laws. Traditionally, the son of the house marries and brings in a daughter-in-law, who will take care of the aging parents. In the event of frailty and ill health associated with old age, it is this social system that provides a background for age related decline and appropriate care arrangements. In this, she will be assisted by the extended family who will take turns to provide instrumental support, often in the form of assistance for hospital visits, respite for the primary caregiver and so on. This system has been the foundation of dementia care in India for many decades. However, demographic and economic changes are reshaping this familial system of care. In the absence of institutional support for the elderly, many families are struggling to maintain traditional caregiving roles (Srivastava et al., 2016).


Brodaty, H., & Donkin, M. (2009). Family caregivers of people with dementia. Dialogues inClinical Neuroscience, 11(2), 217–228. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585957

Gupta, R. (2009). Systems Perspective: Understanding Care Giving of the Elderly in India. Health Care for Women International, 30(12), 1040–1054. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399330903199334

Srivastava, G., Tripathi, R. K., Tiwari, S. C., Singh, B., & Tripathi, S. M. (2016). Caregiver Burden and Quality of Life of Key Caregivers of Patients with Dementia. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 38(2), 133–136. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.178779