Senior Centers – A home away from home?

By Geeta Padmanabhan
In a society where one of the first lessons a youngster learns is to respect and obey the elderly in the family, touch their feet as often as possible or at least when he/she takes leave and returns from a trip, where every young girl moving to her husband’s home is told to take care of the in-laws and treat her husband’s family as her own, the growing phenomenon of retirement centres must come as a bit of a surprise.

A lot has happened in the past few decades to make this necessary. Changing cultural perceptions, starting with the increasing assertiveness of the younger couple in how they bring up the kids, to eating out, to managing finances, all contribute to family clashes. The elders no longer set the rules – they are asked to follow those set by the younger generation.

The elders’ inability to play a sub-ordinate but visibly useful role in running the family adds to the friction. Significantly, the happiest elderly are those who still own homes, have a regular income and travel at will, those who wisely put money away for old age rather than pin their faith on their kids.

Twenty years ago, when elders began to feel abandoned and helpless, they went to old age homes out of despair. In the face of poverty and cruelty, the twin attacks that often brought on depression, they felt forced to leave their son’s/daughter’s home and seek shelter elsewhere. In every interview residents of free old-age homes narrate similar stories: “I spent all my money on the kids’ education/marriage/business. On my son’s advice, I sold the house and moved in with him. I wrote my will bequeathing my property to my son. My daughter-in-law has no time for me. I’m just a servant in the house.” They left because they had no option. The senior centers then were often low cost, subsidized and poorly managed. Moving to these dreary dumps of discarded parents was a last resort, an act of desperation.

Today, there is a new breed of retirement homes. Financially successful NRI’s have the means to make their parents comfortable, and the need to assuage the guilt in not being there with them. And while the aging parent would like nothing better than living in a joint family, surrounded by children and grandchildren, there is also the realization that living in India, among familiar surroundings and friends may actually be preferable to leading a lonely existence in freezing climates where everyone in the house is busy with their own lives.

Affluent Indians now seek the independence and the responsibility-free comforts of living in post-retirement homes that are specially created to suit their needs. And they seem to like what they get and who they enjoy it with. There are landscaped gardens to stroll in, temples, well stockedgate libraries, hygienic kitchens and the company of people of their age who share a common culture and similar tastes. The added attraction is the fact that many of these centers are not too far away from major cities, where the residents have had active work lives.

My mother moved into a retirement home last September. She had been scouting around for one, having decided that her 4 children’s homes in three Indian cities were too restrictive to her taste. We suspect it is because mom is a sprightly 83, having lost none of her abundant zest for life.

Mom discovered Srimathi Sundaravalli Memorial (SSM) Trust Residency during a conversation with Mrs. Jaya Seshan, wife of the former Chief Election Commissioner of India. When she said she and her husband were planning to move into this place, mom was convinced. SSM Residency would meet her exacting standards in food, accommodation and company. She decided to do a recce before casting the final vote.

On her visit, mom grilled owner Mr. Santhanam, manager Mr. Raghavan, the all those in charge of the various facilities. She checked out the main office, the distance one had to cover to reach it and the entertainment center. She even spoke to the gardener. She liked their (practised?) answers. She inspected the cooking area and approved of the modern methods and the gleaming stainless steel equipment. The cook seemed efficient. Mom then had a meal. She liked both the food and the service and decided to give the place a try. A centre that served excellent meals couldn’t be too bad.

The finance works this way: You pay a refundable deposit of a few lakhs and there is a reasonable monthly amount that you pay for food and rent. Anything beyond is extra. Mom chalks up a hefty telephone bill, giving us – and scores of her city friends – her weekly campus news. And remember, she signs up invoices at the Angadi. But her electricity bills and TV cable charges are pretty low. She comes to the city for her bi-monthly medical check-up. What she has now is an AC-ed suite, TV, personal telephones, food that she is used to. Large areas for walks, entertainment minus the hassle of running the apartment/house.

After nearly six months, mom looks good. She has put on weight. In India, this is a sure sign of happiness, if not well-being. She comes to visit occasionally but has become so comfortable with her new home that she returns quickly.

According to HelpAge India, 70 million Indians now fall in the senior citizen category. The number is likely to touch 117 million by 2025. Senior centers run on business lines are booming. Here are some examples.

[1] Ashiana Housing on the Delhi-Gurgaon Road. One/two/three bedroom apartments are  priced between Rs 9 and Rs 20 lakh . There are 640 units. The complex offers a 4.5 acre park, a dhaba, a convenient shopping area, doctors on call, maid and driver on demand and bathrooms with grab rails.

2] At Classic Kudumbam, with a built-up area of 50,000 sq ft near Sholinganallur (near Chennai), you make an initial deposit of Rs 10 lakh (this after being screened through a painstaking process), of which Rs 2 lakh is non-refundable. It entitles you to membership in the club with a swimming pool, massage parlour, physiotherapy an hour of internet weekly. Rooms are available on a twin-sharing basis; they are air-conditioned and have a TV set, fridge and a telephone.
An open-air theatre screens films on weekends; the nearest hospital and medical services are 2 km away. Interaction with residents includes moonlit dinners and bhajan sessions. Plans are afoot for dependent living units (where you can live with a dependent), and assistant living units (for the physically infirm).

[3] At Wellness Communes near Chennai single bedroom homes cost Rs 6.75 lakh, double bedroom homes are for Rs 8.75 lakh. There is an additional charge of Rs 1,100 for maintenance and security.

[4] SCR has a cluster of cottages along East Coast Road Chennai. A 200 sq ft unit could cost around Rs 1 lakh.

[5] The Naya Jyoti in Chennai is a 42 unit outfit with an independent kitchen, a community hall and a library. Naya Jyoti’s Noida (near Delhi) Centre offers  24-hour medical help, a bookshop, a bank and a post office among its facilities. Apartments cost between Rs 6.5 and Rs 10 lakh and there is a security and maintenance fee of Rs 3,100.

[6] Amar Nensey’s Bhairavi, built around the Eagleton Golf Course, Bangalore, has a mini recreation club, a hospital and access to the 18-hole Eagleton Golf Course. Apartments cost Rs 12 lakh onwards.

[7] Housed in Basavangudi near Bangalore is a retirement complex owned by H N Reddy, a former member of Bangalore Development Authority. You pay a deposit of  Rs 1 lakh, and a Rs 7,000 monthly charge. You can hire a full-time cook, vegetarian meals, and have a doctor on call for your four-bedroom apartment which houses a TV and a PC.

[8] Sharan in Navi Mumbai has an interest-free deposit scheme, most modern amenities from independent living quarters, doctors on call and has a monthly charge of Rs 6,000-10,000.

206 thoughts on “Senior Centers – A home away from home?

  1. Geetha Natarajan

    Hi all my mum is also very happy. Its going to be close to 2 years this month and she hasn’t complained once. I am very much relaxed her knowing that she is comfortable. Great place SSM is


  2. meena

    My mom is very happy and busy at SSM…. so I am happy too. I agree its not for everyone as the prices are quite high , so some family members are not willing to shell out money or they have some other issues.. Luckily mom does not have to depend on anybody ( for now ) and not answerable to anybody either as to how and where she spends her money each month. and she is independent and quite involved at SSM . And the people are in her age group ; many of them her classmates from so long back :lol: and she loves loves it. :!: :!: :!:

  3. Geetha Natarajan

    Hi all i will be visiting ssm in jan 2010 and will spend some time with my mum will come back and give feed back

  4. radhakrishna gupta

    i do agree.i think he swindled a lot of money wen he was managing our colony water affairs.

  5. vathirajan

    all sundaravali residents beware of one sitaraman(rbi retd.) & his wife alamelu from besant nagar who don seem to have gud character & hv joined t home recently

  6. ruby

    hi, i need sinior citizen house on daily basis like she wants 10 or 15 days out from home in navi mumbai

  7. Anusha

    My mom is 73 and lives with my brother.She had a fracture a month ago and medical tests revealed that she has acute Osteoporosis. She is slowly recovering from the fracture but feels that she is becoming a burden for my brother. I’m thinking of moving my mom to a Senior living centre 1)which would be a safe place for her2)where she could get immediate medical assistance in case of a health emergency 3)where there are services of a reliable nurse/assistant who could come on a daily basis to care for her.SSM trust seems to have some rave reviews on this page.But will it meet the third criteria I’m looking for?

  8. rajesh

    Lot of misinformation is posted about Clasic kudumbam. There is NO Club;No swimming pool;Nolibrary; Nofree massaga. Deposit is NOT refunded till THE SAME room is reoccupied. Charges are increased arbitrarily. There is no transparency in financial A/C.Mgt ( atleast 4 adults ) dine free.. It is not a REGD Charity trust. Every action is to make profit.Humane approach is totally missing

  9. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Vishranthi Dhama Resorts Pvt Ltd.
    NH 209, Nettigere, Kanakapura Main Road, ( 29th Km)
    Bangalore – 560 062.
    Tel: 91-80-28433089 / 28433090 / 26635048 / 26547275/
    98452 90672
    Email :,

    Nightingales Home Health Services
    337, 2nd Cross, 1st Block,
    R T Nagar, Bangalore – 560032
    Ph: 080 – 23548444, 23548555

    Amar Nensey’s Bhairavi, built around the Eagleton Golf Course, Bangalore, has a mini recreation club, a hospital and access to the 18-hole Eagleton Golf Course. Apartments cost Rs 12 lakh onwards.

    Housed in Basavangudi near Bangalore is a retirement complex owned by H N Reddy, a former member of Bangalore Development Authority. You pay a deposit of Rs 1 lakh, and a Rs 7,000 monthly charge. You can hire a full-time cook, vegetarian meals, and have a doctor on call for your four-bedroom apartment which houses a TV and a PC.
    Hope this helps.

  10. meena

    Just visited my mother at SSM . Still very happy to be there and the temple is a great place to worship and meet people; and the dining halls … where there is a lot of fun , with the Senior C’s wanting to meet all the ‘kids’ visiting from abroad :lol:

  11. Sreenivas

    Hi !! am looking for a seior citizens home near Bangalore. Can anyone please provide me with some addresses.

  12. Anand Narayanan

    Hello Geeta ( Padmanabhan), Just logging in after a while. I spoke to my mom and she knows your mom quite well. In fact I remember, even seeing your mom when I was there last month. She was rushing to the temple before they were closing for the night to witness the last pooja. We did not meet, but I remember my Mom telling me then, that your mom never misses this particular pooja everyday. She is so regular that everybody there knows that if she is walking up to the temple around 8:00 P.M. then it is closing time.

  13. Anand Narayanan

    Hi Shobanaji, Appreciate your comments. Certainly nothing ever will match the love and touch of children looking after their parents in their old age. No money or outsider can give the care like you personally would. Fully agree. But situations compell and we need to our best in a worst situation . You are making an assumption that the parents are forced to live there because there is no harmony in the family. This is not always true. In my case for example, we are a very good quiet happy family. I came abroad for a variety of reasons which were perfectly valid at that time and very much encouraged by my mother. My son grew up where I live ( Quite naturally) and now I am unable to leave him here nor take him back to India. We are more or less forced to take this as our place of residence. I brought my mother (twice) to live here with us but she did not like living here. It is not about family feud or harmony. She loved living with us, but just did not like the country / social / religious culture / climate. I was growing more concerned to leave her on her own in India. We all agreed that ths is the best thing to do and so she is in SSM now. I make it a point to go to India on holidays every year and she spends all the time with us. The whole thing is not ideal but is the best of a bad situation. I felt guilty initially for a while – then thinking about it more carefully, it was her choice, not mine. Ages ago, when our fathers got their jobs in Cities, many of our grandparents came to live with them in Cities. When they migrated, it would have been difficult for them to leave the village, their relatives, the culture and come and live in a city in a crammed house. But many of them did. But the present generation parents are more independent and not ready to give up their identity / social status / culture and ready to change them vastly to suit their children’s job / lifestyle. This includes myself and when I grow older I am not sure if I will ever leave all that I built up over the years and go and live with my son who god knows where in the world he will settle down. This is the changing culture we are in now and it is inevitable that we are going to see more and more of these SSMs in future.

  14. shobhana ravi

    hi all you young men and women..
    Nice to see all of you do care for your parents and want to give them a comfortable life under the circumstance of your not being with them.Commendable.Very similar to parents sending their kids to good boarding schools for them to start their lives in a better manner having been groomed well.An edge over the other live -in day scholars anytime.Agreed.But….with all its plus and minuses…home is home!Pleasures of growing up with family anyways outweigh the discomforts…
    Same goes for parents to be living with their children…Somewhere if we sit back and think …cant there be a dialogue for peaceful co-existence with our parents?esp when they are growing old?some give and take..thrashing out differences…can a compromise not be arrived at??no harm in giving it a shot!!.As hi- flying negotiating professionals at work place if we can turn around a company’s fate with our negotiating skills..cant we bring about that congeniality at home??.Not saying its a easy task.but then…your company’s coveted place in the stock index isnt either!!

    A 46yr old mother of two boys 23 and 20 …wondering whether i should look for a home from now on or develop that spirit of tolerance to co-exist with my own children!!
    NO OFFENSE MEANT…PLEASE DONT TAKE ANY…just wondering if we can work towards a happy home…

  15. kARPAGAM

    For doing the last rites,their wards need not come.They will do it in an honoura
    ble way.If people want a very simple burial or have donated their organs,money to be sent for such things also can be saved. All their assets and the money
    that will be refunded all will go to their good, irresponsible sons who abandon them ,out of fear for their wives.They should write the will in such a
    way,that it will be useful to some deserving needy.A sudden change after
    marriage , makes us wonder.The REMOTE-CONTROL( girl’s mother,not father)does everything.SOME girls deceive the boys by their behaviour before
    marriage .If the marriage is an arranged one, we can talk and make them
    mentally prepared for taking care of his handicapped sibling 1 or 2 years senior to them,we too not being very greedy in taking girls from very rich family.Very rich , focus their attention, only ,on the good salaried boys
    without taking into consideration of their parents or dependent siblings

  16. meena

    My mother has been staying at SSM since the beginning and really likes it. I stayed there for 2 months when the place was really new ! its a non-profit place ,and the main trustee does a pretty good job of keeping things under control. Cost has gone up but the care is good and people are happy. In fact my uncle too moved there last year !!. This March when mom was really , really ill , ( I rushed and stayed for a week ) the staff took very good care of her. The medical block is pretty efficient and decently run. The management is very particular about drinking/ smoking or eating non-veg food both for residents and staff/ helpers alike. My mother is happy and thats what matters right now. We will be visiting SSM this summer….


  17. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Hi Anand Narayanan, My mom has been staying at SSMR for over three years now. Her name is Haimavathi and she writes for Brahmin Today. Do you think your mom and my mom have met?

  18. Anand Narayanan

    Hi Sam and Vidya Pradhan,

    The website is not up and running. But the place is very much in operation and is lively. My mother is in SSM residency and I visited her just last week. When I was there I told the office that their website is not working and they seem to be unaware of this. They thought I had the wrong address and since I wasn’t sure if I tried .org or .com I did not argue.
    Don’t judge them based on the website.My mother has been living there for over a year now and is certainly very happy with their services. I understand that they are becoming a little bit commercial, but at this stane age it is rare to get good service even if you are ready to pay. I stayed there for a couple of days and to be honest I felt that she is in the right place. The temple there is so beautiful and very well maintained. There is a meditation centre, a shop, a library and a hospital with beds. The security in the place seems to be very good and nobody is allowed without prior permission and all details are recorded. Each room has a phone and you can get broadband if you want. Most people have Airconditioning for their bedrooms. The capacity of the Generator was insufficient due to the huge increase in load caused by ACs this summer and they have immediately purchased a huge Generator unit to fix the issue. During my stay I spoke to several people there who my mother has made friends with and almost everybody said that the place is good. Ofcourse there will be exceptions. Not everybody will like everything. But in General, I think it is a good choice.

  19. Vidya Pradhan Post author

    Dear Sam,

    I looked into it and you are right that the existing links don’t work. Thanks for pointing it out. I have removed the link. Will try to find the right one. But the home does exist; at least I hope so since otherwise my poor grandmother is lying under a palm tree somewhere!

  20. Sam

    There is no website It looks a fake website. and email address is also not looking good (Mirror site for DATAONE.IN – Broadband Forum doesnt seem to work for more than 2 weeks. I enquired the cc and they gave me this alternate URL . Its working fine. U can chekck ur usage. – Cached – Similar ) My question is when these institution has not velid webpage how we can trust on them.

    Please look in the matter.

  21. Geeta Padmanabhan

    You could try the place mentioned above. I have a feeling they will be able to accommodate guests for a few months.

  22. jay

    Please let me know the places for senior citizens who can keep for short period that is 1 or 2 months , so that we can leave them at safe place while we are on move as we have lot of other responsibilities.

  23. Lalitha

    Senior Centres – “Senior Centers – A home away from home?” By Geeta Padmanabhan – Her write-up mentiones about Naya Jyoti’s Noida (near Delhi) Centre which offers 24-hour medical help, a bookshop, a bank and a post office among its facilities. Apartments cost between Rs 6.5 and Rs 10 lakh and there is a security and maintenance fee of Rs 3,100. Can anyone please give me the fulll address & Tel Nos. of Naya Jyoti at Noida? Thanks

  24. Krishna

    I refer to the inquiry of Ms Meena.

    SSM home is the best for your mother-in-law they have inbuilt hospital with 24 hours nurses, a doctor visits every day; they have separate block for terminally ill inmates also. This is the best place I can think off.

  25. Krishna

    Could anyone provide me name and address of senior citizens home in Coimbatore Please? It should be near to the city may be just 5 minutes walk.

  26. meena

    I am also looking for a place for my mother in law.. however she need a liitle bit of help . she has bp etc problems. she needs a companion to escort her for walks etc. we feel a home will be better than her staying with a live in maid. can anyone let me know if this place will be able to have such help aound like someone being around when needed/ what medical facitlites are available considering it is so far away frm town.

  27. suma krish

    I am planning to settle down my father in law at SSM. can anyone please send me the current website. Looks like the old one is not functioning.


  28. Achal

    I heard of a place called Ponni Delta in Trichy – seems to be a good offering for seniors. Has anyone heard of it?

  29. Varghese

    Hi all, if you know of any good retirement homes in Coimbatore / North Kerala side, please email me.

    NOTE TO USHA (Ref posting 21-8-08):
    I could pick phone no. of Naya Jyoti of Chennai ie
    Naya Jyoti Charities Trust
    Business Owner
    Update my listing
    Phone : 24950702
    I wonder whether they wld know ?!

  30. Geeta Padmanabhan

    The best thing would be to get in touch with them. Here is contact information.
    Phone: zero four four – two two seven nine two zero zero three / two two seven nine two one four one.
    e-mail: ssmeto at
    I really don’t know what the current rates are for a comparison.

  31. tara


    I heard that SSMR has different categories of rooms depending on a person’s level of fitness, i.e a person who is less mobile can have her/his meals served in the room, of-course this comes at a cost. Do you have any idea what the initial deposit and monthly outgoings are for basics i.e. food and electricity. And how does SSMR compare with Clasic Kudumbam ?

  32. Geetha Natarajan

    Hi Geetha My mum is also there she seems to be quiet happy and content no complaints I actually spend about a week there myself personally i think its really good and its peace of mind for me as I live in Australia and I am happy that she is getting looked after very well

  33. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Hi Sita, I just spoke to my sister and her daughter who visited my mom on Thursday. This is my sister’s report: “Mom is doing fine. Her room was clean and the food was of the usual standard. The temple is about to be completed and the consecration is to take place in July. Two new buildings have come up and the a lot of new beds have been added to the hospital. Mom had no complaints except she was getting bored there. (My mom gets bored easily!) During the course of the conversation, Mom said that a year ago, 4 or 5 residents were asked to leave since they had formed a clique and indulged in constant criticism of the place. They were given their deposits almost at once and were asked to go with the words “We don’t encourage politics here!” We didn’t speak to a lot of people, so I really can’t tell you if anything big is going on.”
    Yes, the deposit rates have been raised for newcomers. And my mom pays 2 thousand rupees more for her stay which includes food. We feel it is justified considering the big jump in the cost of living.

  34. Sita

    Hello Ms Geetha
    I am curious to know if your mom is still in SSM Residency and if so, how does she like it there?
    My parents have been there for some time now and initially they were all praises.
    Now, I understand that Mr Santhanam’s demeanor has changed and he treats the residents with contempt and utmost disrespect. Word is that he is knee deep in several costly projects and is trying to get more money out of the old residents or chase them out so that he can get a larger sum as caution deposits from newcomers.
    Also Earlier, Santhanam promised an immediate refund of the caution deposit if they vacate the premises with a 30 day written notice. Now, they are saying that the residents need to give 60 days written notice and the money will be refunded without interest only after 90 days after they vacate. So, a resident has to wait for 150 days in all. This is causing panic and a helpless dejection amongst some of the older folks who have left everything to come here.
    Please post your response on this blog and let us know your thoughts on this.
    Thank you!

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