WHY WE CHOSE TO MOVE TO A SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY
Originally produced from www.patientsengage.com
To move or not to move to a senior living community is a topic of discussion amongst many as they approach retirement and for many years after retirement. Retired Chief Executive Mr. S. Balagopal shares the factors that affected their choice and what they like about their senior living community.
I am a Physics Graduate with an Electrical Engineering degree as well and have worked in the Private Sector in Multinational Corporations and Indian business groups. In my active professional career, my last posting was in Calcutta as a Chief Executive of a major business division of multinational BOC Gases group. After my retirement in 1998, I was an advisor in an electronics retail chain based in Chennai and I also taught Strategic Management in a leading management school in Madurai. My wife was a teacher and has taught in various schools in Nagpur, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Chennai and she retired in July last year after a teaching career spanning about 50 years. My daughter lives in Zions ville in Indiana and my son lives in Singapore.
What were the considerations that made you consider moving to a retirement home?
With children settled and having taken citizenship in the U.S. and Singapore, we had no other active interest in living in Chennai where social life was restricted with people in apartments welded to their TV sets and hardly knowing who their neighbours were. Hence we thought of moving out to a senior living community. The other factor was to not have my wife spend all her time cooking and managing daily chores and errant helps as well as managing a large apartment with terrace gardens. These considerations led to a decision to move into a well-managed senior living complex.
What kind of options did you look at? How did you go about selecting one – the criteria? The deciding factors?
There were plenty of options. We ruled out Chennai as we preferred independent houses and all senior living complexes in and near Chennai had only apartments. The second option was Bangalore where weather is good but the Bangalore I knew when I studied in the Indian Institute of Science in 1950’s has vanished and today’s Bangalore has become an unliveable place with perennial traffic snarls, heavy vehicular pollution and a place of distances.
We then turned to Coimbatore which has become the Senior Citizens’ capital of India with a huge number of senior living complexes. I spent a few days in Coimbatore visiting and checking out various options and though most were good, I ended up shortlisting two for a final choice. One was Nana Nani, which has very good infrastructure and fairly good ambience but I found that their independent houses which they call villas had hardly any open area for gardening, something which we love. I also found that they have regulations which bordered on regimentation. And, their complexes were almost like townships with apartments and independent houses with over 500 + residents. This was not my idea of a retirement community.
Finally I chose Covai S3 Senior Living Communities and we bought a house in their complex called Soundaryam Santhosham. An extremely green environment with lots of open areas full of trees and greenery with the houses themselves having a lot of land for gardening. We picked a house which was on resale and moved here in mid-August last year. Very good vegetarian food, with well-done dining areas, a club, library and regular activities. Located just outside main Coimbatore city, it is just under 6 miles from the railway station and about 15 miles from the airport. Part of rural Coimbatore, it is surrounded by hills and excellent weather. Coimbatore is known as the poor man’s Ooty. The best part of the place is the residents who comprise of retired senior corporate professionals, people from the Army, Air Force and Navy and a few Government services. This kind of a community is something which gels with our way of life.
What were the reactions from family and friends? Did you consider living with your children?
Initially, both my daughter and son were not sure we were doing the right thing as they thought perhaps that we were moving into some kind of an old age home. Once my son saw the place he fell in love with it and seeing the photographs, my daughter also felt comfortable that we have moved into a good place. They have visited us in our new home and both have felt very happy with the kind of life and the community we have here. We have not considered living with the children and are comfortable visiting them periodically. Their professional life makes it such that if we go and live with them, they would be put under different kind of pressure in their work – life balance which we would not welcome.
What were the initial settling in and adjustment issues? Any surprises?
Hardly any settling-in issues and within a few days of moving in we virtually stopped missing Chennai despite having lived there for almost 19 years since retirement.The greatest surprise was the lifestyle here. When we came, we thought it would be typical elders living place and no partying etc. and we ended up leaving all party related accessories like glassware at Chennai. Once we arrived, we found that this was a great party place with people getting together almost twice a month partying with drinks. This is perhaps the only senior living complex in Coimbatore which allows such partying as long as it does not become a nuisance to others. With the residents comprising of people who have lived well in their professional life, this was no issue. We have an inner group of about 20 of us who meet regularly, in fact every day after lunch and after dinner and chat and have periodic parties. Great camaraderie among the entire community. We also have periodically entertainment programmes in the complex and overall, the life has become thoroughly enjoyable.
Any learning’s from your experience that you would like to share with other people considering moving?
We never expected that we would move into such a senior living community post retirement and now we believe this has been one of the best decisions we have made in our life. Almost all residents have their children living abroad and they visit their children and their children visit them here. Quality of life is pretty good. I believe this kind of community is ideal for people after retirement from active professional life. This way, we get to live among-st people of our age group with younger people visiting periodically which makes a good blend. Most importantly, Indian women usually spend their life cooking and feeding their family and taking care of the house and this even if they have a professional life. They rightly deserve a release from these domestic day to day responsibilities and the best way is to go and live in a senior living community where they are free from domestic chores and have a lot of time to devote to other areas of their interest.