Now Reading
How My Multi-generational Family Experience Prepared Me to Work for Caregivers and Care Recipients

How My Multi-generational Family Experience Prepared Me to Work for Caregivers and Care Recipients

  • Through the pandemic, we worked to push for policy that helped nursing homes. We had some policy wins, but much remains to be done.

My husband, like many Indians and Indian immigrants today, grew up in a joint family. The term was quite alien to someone like me who grew up in the U.S. in the 70s, far from grandparents and extended family, surrounded by everyday Americans, where elder care happened in assisted living or nursing homes. When my parents moved our family back to India in the 1980s, I learned about complex interfamily dynamics, and how family members provide support in caregiving of both elders and the young. My mother’s younger sister — who was still single at the time — lived with us until he went to preschool, while my mom pursued her career. My dad’s mom came to live with us.   

I built on this multi-generational family experience, helping friends with the organization India Home. I knew that we had a lot to do to support the needs of caregivers and care recipients — and not just for our immigrant populations. We heard stories of parental abuse and neglect, through a helpline at the Hindu temple and organizations like Mai Family Services which provide culturally competent support services including senior care. As a Troy planning commissioner, I approved facility designs while asking questions about the viability of these assisted living centers that were popping up across our region. I was engaged with what legislators in Lansing were doing, including a long-term care infrastructure study they funded. 

As a candidate in 2018, I stopped by a fundraiser for an Indian American congressional candidate after a day of door-knocking. I had great conversations about caregiving: people began pulling up chairs, discussing models for care, the options available, and more. One was to uproot themselves and live near their kids so that they could be close when their elder care needs arose. They were mostly Indian immigrants whose children had built their careers outside of Michigan. They themselves had also left aging parents “back home,” and were conflicted about asking their kids to come back, leaving successful jobs and their new homes. 

As I continued on the campaign trail, I learned of the plight of direct care workers, with organizations like Caring Across Generations highlighting the meager wages and burnout faced by the (mostly) brown and black women who serve as caregivers. A soon-to-be colleague had introduced a bill that would study the long-term care infrastructure needs of our state’s aging. I tracked its progress, excited to advocate along with him to ensure that the government did its thing: ensure public safety and welfare. 

In my first term, I began to build the relationships needed to successfully create services that people desperately needed and would actively use, seeking Republican allies since they are the ones who set the agenda and can pass policy to enact budgets that reflect our values. Fortunately, Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Witmer understood these concerns as a caregiver sandwiched between caring for her ailing mother and her young children as a single parent. Through the pandemic, we worked to push for policy that improved the treatment of caregivers and recipients in nursing homes. We had some policy wins, but much remains to be done. 

In my second term, Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit) became my ally, with a freshman’s enthusiasm and the social networks to help launch a bipartisan, bicameral legislative Care Caucus. A legislative caucus is a group of legislators who organize to advocate or influence legislation that promotes their common goals and interests. It reminds me of an affinity group or an employee resource group that I had joined when I worked in corporate settings. We bring in speakers and stakeholder groups to hear from experts — like Clare Luz, a doctor, a scholar at MSU and the Director of the Impart Alliance, an organization dedicated to helping MI build an infrastructure that expands and supports direct care workers. We’ve also had speakers from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, specifically the Area Agencies on Aging. Our next meeting will feature the state’s Longterm Care Ombudsman, who responds to concerns from around the state about long-term care facilities (skilled nursing facility, home for the aged, or adult foster care). 

See Also

When I was elected, Michigan alone faced a 22 thousand care worker shortage — today it is 34 thousand. I recently addressed a group of people across the state involved in caregiving. I am encouraging you, just as I encouraged them, to find out who your state legislators are. Ask them to step up and find solutions to the needs of our aging population. Whether you live in America or India, are an immigrant with parents on the other side of the world, or just an everyday American, if you need help with caregiving, you are the change you’ve been waiting for. 

(Top photo, Michigan State Representative Padma Kuppa with her parents.)

Padma Kuppa is Democratic State Representative for Michigan’s 41st House District and has been just re-elected for a second term. A mother, an engineer from NIT Warangal, and an automotive and IT professional for over 2 decades, and a civic and interfaith leader for years, she is the first Indian immigrant and Hindu in the Michigan state legislature. You can reach her at Learn more at or

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top