February 27, 2023
Rina Rhyne, 43, grew up with a strong relationship with her parents. As the youngest of three daughters and with her sisters out of state, she often felt like an only child. So, when Rina reached her 30s and her parents were in their 70s and 80s, she became their primary caretaker. But after her mother died from a heart attack and her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she moved him into her home.
“Obviously, he is going to live with us,” Rhyne said. “I grew up knowing that I would have to care for my parents and that nursing homes were bad. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Eventually, Rhyne had to make the tough decision to move her father to an assisted living facility. He passed away in 2021. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it and still feel guilt, but I know it was the right thing to do.”
Rhyne’s story is not isolated. There are 48 million unpaid caregivers providing care to 52 million individuals who are 65 and older in the U.S. Of this elderly population, about 500,000 were South Asian in 2021, about a seven times increase from 72,000 in 2000. Caring for the elderly is an important decision. For South Asian Americans like Rhyne, it is especially difficult given the community’s expectations.