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Life in ‘comfort homes’ after retirement

It is for those who want a luxurious life after they retire

— Photos: S. Siva Saravanan

Tailor made: Value added services provided by some retirement homes make such places attractive.

A mention of old age homes usually conjure up depressing living spaces, where the old and retired, are abandoned by ingrate families. Not any more. Increasingly, there are people who are choosing to stay in communities that are tailor-made to suit their requirements. It is becoming a preferred option for even those who are well off, and want to enjoy retired life with none of its attendant worries.

That is why architect Mini Fowler, who has worked on retirement homes says, “Retirement communities are places where one would feel comfortable and be happy living day in and day out.” The homes she says, “Should be carefully designed with today’s retiree in mind, where supporting independence, privacy, security and value for money guide the architectural design and style”.

Soundaryam, Santosham and Shenbhagham are three such self-contained retirement communities (promoted by Covai Properties) that Fowler has designed. And, the people living there prefer to call it “comfort homes”. The community has charming villas complete with gardens and picket fences. And, at the hub of it all is a community centre, with a card room, a television room, a dining hall, a lounge, a library and an infirmary. The villas are all on one level with a ramp at the entrance to help wheelchair-users. Rooms are bright and airy; floors are anti-skid. Bathrooms have grab rails in case of sudden dizzy spells and to prevent falls. All houses come with invertors, alarm buzzers, and doors that can be opened from either side. Other than these, the owners have the freedom to plan the layout of their rooms, choose the fittings, etc., to suit their lifestyle needs

It is this freedom and independence that sets some retirement communities from others. Having shopped around for a place to settle down after retirement, Srinivasan disliked the fact that a lot of them seemed too much like a hostel. “One has to live by the bell; be forced into each other’s company and made to do things one might not want to do at all. Most of us look forward to retirement as a time to relax and do things we never had the time to do before, and being treated like inmates of a halfway house is certainly not one of them,” he says.

At Soundaryam retirement homes, it is the value added services that make it so attractive. The inmates own their villas and can leave them to their children, rent them out or sell them (in some communities, the house reverts to the management after the inmate’s death). The Covai Properties Management Services provides the rest of the services that include domestic help for household work, gardening and, what the manager Mohan Nair calls, ‘preventive service’. Every month a team inspects each house for faulty electric wiring, plumbing, etc. “We don’t wait for things to malfunction. We pre-empt that by keeping everything in good order,” he says.

For those who don’t want the hassle of cooking, a state-of-the-art kitchen with a trained cook and staff turns out balanced meals. Similarly, for those who find comfort in a well-stocked kitchen, provisions are just a phone call away.

A weekly visit by a doctor helps in the routine health checks; there is an ambulance and another vehicle and a chauffeur on call for those who want a day out in town. There are guest houses too. The grounds are large enough to organise a function. And the staff pays your bills for you.

Pankaja Srinivasan, Coimbatore

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