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Finding your nook in the senior years

Illustration for TH_sreejith r.kumar

Illustration for TH_sreejith r.kumar  

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Senior citizen community living facilities are catching on in many cities, but how good are they?

One blissful day, about three years after my retirement, I was holding hot filter coffee in one hand, a newspaper in the other, and watching a T20 match rerun for the umpteenth time. Suddenly, my wife asked, “You have retired. When will I?”

She continued: “You unwind, relax, rest, enjoy. My cycle is the daily purchase of vegetables, stocking of provisions, eternal planning of menu followed by perpetual cooking, besides intermittent shocks of the maid not turning up and so on. So, now tell me, when can I retire from this drudgery, and relax and pursue my interests?”

She then handed me a colourful pamphlet with the photo of a senior couple sitting in a garden swing. “Freedom from cooking. Paradise on earth,” it said.

It was an advertisement for a senior citizen community living facility. “This must be an old-age home in a new avatar,” I said. “Nothing of that sort. I have already spoken to a few of my contacts living there, and they told me they are enjoying relaxed lives,” she said.

Not an easy decision

“No,” I said hurriedly, “we just can’t go by what a few say. We need to do a thorough research, including a survey, visit and stay, and talk to the residents before taking this important decision.” So we did precisely that for a year, we were convinced, and have now been living in such a facility for the past six months.

So is it different from an old-age home?

Yes. Most of the residents in old-age homes are not financially independent and have been left there by their children. The homes are run by the government or NGOs and they provide only the basic necessities.

The seniors in a community-living facility are financially secure and have themselves made the choice to live there. Children living abroad often persuade their parents to relocate to such facilities for better security and safety.

But is it truly heaven? Well, my wife has been relieved from the drudgery of the kitchen. We eat a variety of nutritious, tasty food that is served in a common dining room three times a day. We also get door delivery of hot coffee twice a day.

My wife doesn’t get stressed if the regular maid doesn’t come to clean our apartment, since a replacement turns up. She now has plenty of time to pray, attend religious discourses, listen to music, chat with friends, participate in cultural events, and watch films. For the first time in decades, her blood pressure has dropped to near normal.

She agrees that this is heaven for her. But is it for everyone? No, for not everyone enjoys the food, a few call it bland. While some others feel stressed at being “uprooted” from their homes or native places and thrown into a new location among strangers.

soraiyurvraman@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:43:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/finding-your-nook-in-the-senior-years/article29744425.ece

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