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Living the good life post-retirement

Retirement communities, offering an array of convenient services, are fast becoming the lifestyle option of those who can afford it.



All under on roof:Add to the concept of a gated community a common kitchen, medical assistance, daily housekeeping in a plush villa and community living, and you have a retirement community.

“I have been an artiste all my life and I have students from many countries learning music from me even today,” says the agile Savithri Satyamurthy, somewhat defensively, conscious of the clichés associated with a retirement community. This renowned 82-year-old violinist, who has made Clasic Kudumbam, a retirement village, her home for the last few years, walked in there not as a last resort, but making a lifestyle choice, just like the other 45-odd residents living in Kudumbam.

Retirement villages like Kudumbam are fast becoming an alternative lifestyle option for retirees who can afford it. In terms of concept, it is a gated community, except age is a bar here. Designed specifically to suit retirees and senior citizens, these villages usually insist on residents being over 50 or 60 years of age. Add to the concept of a gated community a common kitchen, medical assistance, daily housekeeping in a plush villa and community living, and you have a retirement community.

Says Meenakshi Ganapathy (84), on her move to a retirement village in Shollinganallur: “My husband and I came here for a trial stay since my children went abroad and have lived here since. Back at home we had to go to the bank, buy our groceries, call the plumber and pay the bills by ourselves; and with age it was getting difficult. Over here it is all taken care of.” On senior citizens' lifestyle requirements, retired Col. A. Sridharan, Managing Director, Covai Property Centre says, “Here, the dinner time is 7.30. There is a basic difference in the lifestyles of the young and the old and these communities are designed to suit the routines of a senior citizen.”

The usual chores that become a challenge for an ageing couple are cooking, cleaning and paying the bills. In a retirement village, the management handles all that. A common kitchen serves meals; maids, housekeeping, door-step banking, a round the clock front-office and caretakers for people with special needs are all available. Some Covai Properties, on the outskirts of Coimbatore, have a therapeutic pool, an Ayurvedic massage centre and a geriatric gymnasium.

Brindavan Senior Citizen foundation which has around 400 residents in three projects around Coimbatore, serves several varieties of wheat and rice for those with health conditions that require special diets.

In the case of Melur Meadows, the CEO, Sathyanarayan, approached architect Suhasini, based out of Auroville, who brought in textures and colours for people whose memories start to fail them.

“We played with textures for the flooring, so that when one is walking barefoot, they are able to judge exactly where they are by the texture of the floor. We also colour-coded the buildings, because with age it often becomes difficult to remember the door numbers,” says the architect.

In the next phase of the project, Col. Sathyanarayan hopes to create a small NGO and get involved with the local communities using the expertise of the retirees at the community.

Ramesh Nair, Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalle, Chennai and Hyderabad, says: “The two important things with regard to retirement communities is affordability and medical assistance. There is a lot of opportunity in projects that fall within the 10-30 lakh categories also providing quality healthcare,” he says.

These communities usually come with three levels of medical assistance — independent living, assisted living and continuous living. Independent living implies that there is no in-house doctor round the clock. A retirement home can offer continuous living service only if it has a hospital in-campus.

Retirement communities come with several options for ownership and living. While some developers give the option of buying the villa as well as leasing them out, in a place like Kudumbam one can only take the house on a lifetime lease. While some developers sell the land with the villa, others sell just the house so that there is no disproportionate appropriation of land. Owning a house in these communities can cost you anywhere between 15 and 40 lakhs. For others, there is always an option of paying a monthly rent.

These retirement communities attempt at doing away with the stigma that is attached to a community of senior citizens living together, especially for those who believe that life does not get switched off 60.

ASHA SRIDHAR

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