Retirement homes or what they traditionally call old-age homes are redefining their purpose. While they continue to provide a safe, comfortable and sometimes even a luxurious environment for living, establishments such as Bengaluru-based KITES now offer what most facilities don’t specialised geriatric care. “It’s the rehabilitative care senior citizens need when moving into an old-age facility,” says Rama Govardhan, a 78-year-old Gurugram resident, who is considering moving into one.
Medical care is of utmost importance. Whether recovering from a major surgery or other procedures, these homes provide palliative, hospice, memory and psychiatric care. “Those suffering from debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or those requiring continuum care after stints at the hospital, are taken care of here,” says Dr Reema Nadig, COO and Group Medical Director, KITES.
KITES provides only short- or medium-term stay packages for post-hospitalisation rehabilitation, with prices starting at Rs 1,500 per day. Home-based care is also on offer. In the hills of Matheran, 90 km away from Mumbai, another such retirement home, Dignity Lifestyle, is extending assisted living accommodations. Called the Nightingale Care Unit, it takes care of older people suffering from frontotemporal disease, corticobasal disease, or cognitive and neurocognitive impairments. Senior citizens with mobility issues, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Ischemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and fractures are increasingly choosing it.
It was the promise of premium medical care that first attracted Reena Nath, Delhi-based psychotherapist, to lease a home in Antara Senior Care Residences in Dehradun in 2017. Her husband was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and the promise of assisted living, in addition to other community benefits, was the deciding factor. A change in management and other problems made the team at Antara drop its long-term vision of being a senior continuum care facility. The focus now is entirely on medical care with a GP on the premises, along with a team of nurses. Max Super Speciality Hospital is located just a stone’s throw away.
Nath’s husband passed on without living at Antara, yet she found solace in it during last year’s Covid-19-enforced lockdown. “The loneliness of isolation started getting to me. I needed to be with people, and after finally moving into the home I had kept ready for many years, I could finally enjoy its many benefits, like making friends. Conversation flowed easily and my mood lifted. In the clubhouse, where we all sit, laughter echoes through the day. We talk, share and advise each other. It’s therapeutic,” says Nath.
With the exception of specialised care facilities, all senior living homes allow family members to visit and stay. This is another reason why people are choosing such establishments. Adarsh Narahari, Managing Director of Primus Senior Living in Bengaluru, is a huge supporter. He says, “There is no greater comfort for an older person than to have family close by. These days, people are talking about luxury senior homes offer, but the biggest luxury for older people is companionship, one that no one can provide better than family and close relatives.”
Yet another facility, Vedaanta Senior Living, with branches in Bengaluru, Chennai and Coimbatore, realised the importance of combining emotional and restorative care with palliative care. Ashwin Kumar Iyer, CEO of Vedaanta, states, “It was a challenge to dovetail assisted living requirements with independent retirement homes through a fully-equipped paramedical centre, but we are on our way to fulfilling that promise soon.” Optimism will take these homes places.
The changing nature of retirement homes
The focus now is on palliative, hospices, and psychiatric care
Emotional care is becoming the focal point of conversation
People as young as 50 are choosing to lease/buy accommodation in senior care facilities, often shuttling back and forth to address the needs of their jobs, ageing parents and young children
Some facilities offer Ayurvedic integrative medicine regimes as part of their holistic wellbeing paradigm
With the exception of specialised care facilities, all senior living homes allow family members to visit and stay. This is another reason why people are choosing such establishments.