Left Behind and Unhealthy? A Case Study of Health and Treatment-Seeking Practices of Migrant Sons’ Older Parents in Indian Sundarban

Shinjini Ray


This study assesses the impact of adult out-migration on the health and treatment-seeking practices of left-behind older parents. Further, it identifies the preferred sources of treatment and challenges the left behind older parents face regarding healthcare access. A cross-sectional field survey was conducted from October 2020 to December 2020 among 400 left-behind and 200 non-left-behind older parents aged 60 years and above residing in the Sundarban Delta region of India. Both quantitative and qualitative interviews were conducted. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, multivariate OLS and logistic regression models. We considered five physical health markers- self-rated health (SRH), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), Body Mass Index (BMI), and two psychological health indicators- happiness and depression. Prevalence of NCDs and depressive symptoms significantly increased with adult sons' out-migration. A positive association was found between adult sons' migration and older parents' mobility, functional ability and BMI. Migration has a negative impact on NCDs-related treatment-seeking behaviour among left-behind older parents. Further initiatives are required to mitigate depressive symptoms and enhance healthcare utilization among older adults who have been left behind.

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