Worried about your elderly parents back home?

1999

If you're an NRI whose elderly parents are back home in India, you are very familiar with that almost constant worry of their welfare lurking at the back of your mind. Added to that worry is also a lingering sense of guilt, for having left them to fend for themselves, particularly if you don't have siblings or relations living close to them.

Well, worry no more. In Bangalore at least, a set of parents have taken the initiative and founded an organisation called the NRI Parents Association (NRIPA), aimed at providing a support network for themselves. If you have elderly parents back home, you will be only too aware of their sense of loneliness and isolation - and it is precisely for this reason that NRIPA was founded. The organisation holds regular meetings for its members, where not only do they get a chance to socialise with each other, but also get to share the common set of concerns that NRI parents have.

Further, at these meetings, talks are held on a variety of subjects relevant not only to NRI parents but also to people of that age group. For instance, at a recent NRIPA session, Dr Chandy of HOSMAT - a reputed hospital in Bangalore - gave a talk on arthritis, a very common condition prevalent among the elderly. NRIPA members were able to ask Dr Chandy a whole range of questions on this topic, and the enthusiasm with which they did this only highlighted the need for this kind of service. The event was sponsored (refreshments included!) by the multinational drugs company Pfizer, whose arthritis-related products were also showcased.

Other topics of interest are also covered at these meetings, such as travel insurance, stress management, the laws relating to Wills (the ones relating to death and inheritance, not the cigarette company!) and so on.

In addition to these meetings, NRIPA publishes a newsletter, Newscape, which keeps members in touch with the latest happenings. Moreover, NRIPA functions as a network for not only parents, but also their children. In the cases of new members whose children have recently gone abroad, the children of existing members can, where possible, help the newly arrived (fresh off the boat!) through these contacts. So in some ways, both parents and children can benefit from this network.

But perhaps most importantly for us NRIs (who live in constant dread of that emergency phone call from home), NRIPA has created an SOS cell, to offer non-medical back-up if something bad happens.

Apart from all these activities, NRIPA plans to be active in the local community, addressing issues such as garbage collection, electricity and water supply, telecom services, airport facilities and so on.

Launched in January 1998, NRIPA is a voluntary, non-profit organisation and has about 175 members, whose children live in a variety of countries from the US to Europe to the Gulf, and virtually everywhere else in the world. The only condition for membership is that applicants have one or more children living abroad. The annual fee is Rs 600 for both parents, and Rs 400 for a single parent. NRIPA plans to have chapters in other Indian cities.

For more information, or if your parents are interested in setting up a NRIPA chapter in their city,please contact the secretary, Mr T K Rao at Email: tkrao@vsnl.com, Phone: (080) 571-1536.

The address is: NRIPA, 435, 1st B Cross, 7th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560 095, India.

- Rear Admiral K. Raja Menon (Retd.) in New Delhi

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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