Relational Solidarity and Conflicting Ethics in Dementia Care in Urban India

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2024 Jul 1;79(7):gbae079. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbae079.


Objectives: Using the concept of relational solidarity, we examine how autonomy, equality, dignity, and personhood are practiced in the care of people living with dementia at home in urban India.

Methods: Video interviews with 19 family carers and 25 health providers conducted in English, Hindi, and Kannada in Bengaluru between March and July 2022. Data were translated into English and thematically analyzed.

Results: Family carers and providers unanimously agreed that people with dementia should be respected and cared for. Concurrently, they perceived people with dementia as being "like a kid" and used the analogy of a parent-child relationship to understand their care responsibilities. This analogy informed how ethical principles such as personhood and equality were reframed in the relationships between family carers and people with dementia, as well as how carers and providers maintained the safety but undermined the autonomy of people with dementia through restricting their movements inside and outside the home.

Discussion: There can be relational solidarity in dementia care at home in urban India but also contradictions in the interpretations and applications of the ethical principles of autonomy, equality, dignity, and personhood. As such, a more organic, grassroots model of ethical practice is needed to frame care and provide material support to families in India.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s; Cross-culture; Diversity; Families; Home.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers* / ethics
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Dementia* / nursing
  • Dementia* / psychology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Personhood
  • Respect
  • Urban Population