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Fearless Caregiving Abroad
By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer
Over a year ago, Steve Herzfeld took a fearless leap
of caregiving faith when he moved to India with his parents. Mom’s
Parkinson’s disease was on a roll and Dad’s Alzheimer’s provided its own
Steve’s caregiving journey began when he moved in
temporarily to help his parents out after Mom’s broken hip. “Temporary”
became redefined in caregiver terms when his visit stretched to three
years. While considering options limited to nursing homes with
gargantuan fees (over $3,000 monthly) and questionable care, a longtime
friend suggested an international leap of faith—a move to India.
With help from his friend and colleague,
arrangements were made to make the move to Pondicherry, on India’s
southern coast. With its French colonial influences, it includes
English and French among languages spoken. Dad, brought up in
Switzerland, could communicate in both languages; an added bonus to
exercise his mind.
No stranger to India, Steve’s work with
Transcendental Meditation ( TM ) had taken him to India previously.
Those five years in India were instrumental in helping him make the
Although he’s referred to the initial weeks of
settling in as “chaotic,” the benefits of care abroad quickly mounted.
Massage therapy, 24/7 help with meals, bathroom trips and incidentals
were far less costly than in the States. Back in the US, one half of
the care would have broken everyone financially, with Medicaid as a
final resort. Yet, half a world away, there was money left over for
While family may consider India another planet,
Steve’s caregiving journey has taught him to live within many
realities. Dad’s Alzheimer’s provides its own version of time travel,
for example. Yet, in this “other world,” there are people and places
that have brought the family a level of closeness that only improves
health and well-being.
His parents’ lives and health, enriched by a new
environment and diet, were just the beginning. The staff added their
own compassionate care to give his aging parents’ support and one-on-one
Today, Steve and Dad stay on in Pondicherry, but
things have changed. During the summer of 2007, Mom passed away in
her sleep. The care she received with such devotion could only
have helped with the peaceful transition.