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Adult Children are Legally Required to Care for Aging Parents in India

by Derrick

Here is an interesting piece of caregiving information I recently learned of. India passed The Maintenance And Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in 2007. The act is interesting, because it legally requires children and grandchildren (but not minors) to maintain the health and wellness of an aging family member, where “maintenance” is defined as the provision for food, residence and medical attendance and treatment; and “senior citizen” as any person age sixty or older. My understanding is that seniors are not particularly well cared for in India, and this is probably the government’s attempt to place responsibility on family members.

This is interesting, because it’s contrary to the American approach which places more responsibility for elder care in the hands of government, not family. There are some cultures that view caring for aging parents as the obligation of children, and that should an aging parent be poorly cared for, it’s a disgrace and an embarrassment for the entire family. The India approach appears to solidify the latter through legal requirements, though perhaps it’s more based in fiscal limits on the part of the government. India has no social security, for example. I can’t help but wonder if, given America’s rapidly aging population, we will see some legal caregiving requirements on the part of adult children in the future. Surely the government can’t care for everyone.

How does India’s act work?

  1. A senior citizen who is unable to maintain himself (India’s gender specific language) from his own earning or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitled to make an application for payment of money and for other relief.
  2. The application may be filed against one or more persons.
  3. After an inquiry, the local government passes an order directing payment from all children or relatives.
  4. Children are obligated to attend to their parents’ needs.
  5. A senior may seek maintenance for food, housing, clothes, medical care and recreation.
  6. Failing to comply may result in fines and/or prison time for the child or relative.
  7. Childless senior citizens must be cared for by other relatives of sufficient means.

The government, for its part, has begun constructing more senior housing throughout the country. Should the United States and other countries follow India’s lead and require adult children to provide for aging parents?

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Photo by matthewleessome rights reserved

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