Happiness is spending some time with senior citizens.
While in Lonavala, I visited ‘Senior Citizen Home’ at Varsoli Village off old Mumbai-Poona road managed by Swami Ramanand Shastri Charitable Trust. Stretched over 12500sq meters, surrounded by scenic beauty on all four sides, with birds chirping away, the home for senior citizens at Lonavala is a beautiful place to be.
Several times I have considered an old age home for myself too, when I reach that ripe old age. I always romanticized on an idea that if you pay the rent of a posh room, be in the company of like-minded-people of same age and have cooking and cleaning out of way, life could be easy.
But I think it is easily said than done. I am not sure I want to be there.
The environment can be created taking into consideration the interests of the group. For example, many senior people are inclined towards religion, so there was a small temple in the campus of the home.
The rooms were large with two beds per room, an attached bathroom, and a small pantry in the balcony. There was a small cushioned bench outside every room where they could interact with their neighbors. A large park and a walking tract dominated the campus. A community kitchen and a gym situated at the further end of the building were clean and spacious.
The management has made their uttermost effort to make their stay as comfortable as possible. On the day I visited, most of the seniors had gone out for one-day picnic to a tourist spot. There are regular eye-camps held and they are well looked after. They are even allowed visitors to come and spend few days with them, but still, I didn’t see 100% contentment in their faces. When I spoke to some of the sweet old women at the home, I realized that they miss their family a lot. I got the feeling that it’s the compromise they have made by coming and living away from their family.
When senior citizens are in the midst of their family, they get involved in all the activities; they have an opinion in family decisions and are surrounded by their grandchildren and relatives.
Indians are used to community living and they like to stay in familiar setting. Young children want to take care of their parents, but sometimes it becomes difficult because of other pressing priorities. Moreover, there is stigma attached to the home, that makes it difficult for young people to sent their parents to 'Senior Citizen Home'. Parents also feel unwanted and rejected if they are sent away from the family.
Nevertheless if senior people need a secure home, a place where they don’t have to worry about cooking meals, a place where there are professional doctors and counselors to look after their needs, a place where they don’t have to worry about anti-social elements that is prevalent in the society, a home for senior citizen is a perfect choice.