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Reverse Parenting in the Pandemic

Being a caregiver of an elderly parent, in normal times is not easy. Add the COVID-19 brand of WFH into the mix, and the degree of complexity trebles.

Photo by Freepik
Photo by Freepik

The comfort of being at home and the flexibility that WFH offers, facilitates caregiving for ones’ parents. However, sometimes presence tantamounts to availability. And this expectation from elderly parents can be an impediment for their caregivers, who are in a WFH mode, during this pandemic. 

Deepa Soman has a different story. Her home includes her dad, who continues to have an admirable schedule of activities, despite COVID-19. She has tweaked his schedule to ensure that his recreation is not impacted because of the lockdown. So, it is movie nights on Netflix, Ted Talks and a calling roster to videocall family and friends. And, instead of just breakfast and dinner, Deepa’s dad now has his daughter join him for lunch as well! 

Abhilasha Jha shares that it is difficult to draw the boundary where parents sometimes forget that working from home is not equal to chilling at home. Pre-COVID-19, issues that could wait to be resolved, are now being expected to be managed as soon as they come up. It takes some amount of constant effort from her side to manage this balance. In this scenario, managing daily activities consume more time than actually engaging with them. 

How is it to have an aged family on the other side of the globe? Challenging and emotionally harrowing. With travel restrictions, worrying about parents, some of whom are in frail health, aren’t pleasant thoughts. Until then, technology comes to the rescue, with video check-ins for Mariko Braswell. With her in-laws overseas, she guides them on how they need to care for themselves, practise social distancing, staying indoors, making sure their pantries are stocked and medicines re-filled. 

Having a long-distance conversation on the impact of the COVID-19, on mortality, with immunocompromised parents is tough. This is the one time when elderly parents really need to cast aside seniority, experience and wisdom and accept directions from their children. Even if it means Krusha Sahajwani Malkani guiding her father-in-law to practise yoga! 

Who would have seen the expanse of this kind of time come, from nowhere, that allows clocking it with an elderly parent? Impossible, under normal circumstances. Being ‘gifted’ with time to spend with a parent whose time is limited is really a blessed offering. Flip the coin, and the entire perspective changes. 

Integrating elder care with WFH in the era of COVID-19 will be patchy, tricky and will sometimes border on negotiation. Of prime importance here is the health, both mental and physical, of the caregiver. Of course, and in addition to that of the elderly parent. 


(The article is part of a series of perspectives as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown)

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- Marcus Aurelius

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