Old-age homes have become a common phenomenon in Thanjavur. K.Gowri Shankar (77), a retired LIC branch manager, is living in Swathi Elders Home at Ganapathy Nagar . "Old people have one foot on the grave. But their children are young and want to enjoy their lives. We have to respect their feelings and give them freedom," says the insurance man when asked about the utility of old-age homes in a fast changing world.
Government should run old-age homes, he opines. "Private homes are good for middle aged people and pensioners', who can afford it. But what about poor people? Government has to step-in to run facilities for the elderly," he said. His two children are in Mumbai and Chennai.
The home is not just for elderly family men. A.Swaminathan (80), a former officer of the handicrafts department who is living in the home, is unmarried. Old-age homes also provide shelter to couples who don't have children. V.Ramamoorthy, a retired head master and his wife stay at the home. Ananthavalli (87) of Thanjavur says that she has come to the home for "peace of mind".
S.Jayam (67) of Mannargudi said that she wanted her children to be happy and that's the reason for her stay at the home.
U.Thirupurasundari, (57) of Thanjavur has her son in the U.S . She spends six months in America and another six months in the home. "I am very happy to live with these people when I am in India,” she said. . Sundari Subramanyam, secretary of the home said
"We treat them with dignity and respect that they deserve. But then it is a complex task to deal with old people who were once employed and were in the thick of things. But when we understand their requirements, it is not a problem. I have experience in taking care of children in orphanages. This is the first time I am in charge of an elder's home. I've learnt a lot and derive satisfaction in serving them.”
The home is the brain child of A.M.Swaminathan, a former IAS Officer. The home was built at a cost of Rs. 75 lakh and has 27 inmates at present.