Community Living – the solution for lonely, helpless elders living alone

Community Living – the solution for lonely, helpless elders living alone
April 19 07:09 2022 by admin Print This Article

Since the beginning of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has gripped our attention more than anything else in our lives. It has pushed a lot of challenges faced by the human race to the background, while vaccines, medication, hospitalization and lockdowns occupy the foreground. One such challenge is the loneliness pandemic, a pandemic that is much older and more severe than the Covid one. So severe is this pandemic that the UK has even appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness’ to address this new social crisis.

The loneliness pandemic affects all age-groups of people, across every region of the world. However, the elderly, or senior citizens are more severely affected by loneliness. Unlike younger people for whom loneliness can be a temporary problem, for the elderly, its permanent, one that they must compromise with. The breakdown of the joint-family structure, migration of children within the country or abroad for better prospects, an increase in disposable incomes leaving parents and children less dependent on each other financially, cultural and generational differences between parents and children, and many other reasons have led to the loneliness pandemic among elders.

So exactly how serious is the problem? The Census Data of 2011 showed that in India, 15 million elders were living alone, out of which almost three-fourths were women. According to a report published by HelpAge India, as of 2020, 100 million elders were living alone and the number was expected to hit 143 million by end of 2021. According to a report published by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), by 2050, elders will account for nearly 18% of the population, at 300 million. A drop in fertility rates and more and more youngsters opting out of marriage or raising kids, is contributing to this trend.

Even though elders learn to live with the loneliness, it has a devastating effect on their physical, psychological and cognitive health. Lonely elders are more prone to diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, depression and cancer, among others. In addition to the ailments, quality of life takes a backseat. This is a tragedy considering that many elders can actually afford to live a good quality of life even in their old ages. This is precisely what has inspired the culture of Community Living for elders, and an entire industry around this, all over the world.

What is Community Living

As people age, they try their best to stay connected with friends, family, acquaintances and the society at large. However, there are recurring challenges that pose a handicap.

  • Inability to drive and the hassle of public transport limits transportation options making elders dependent on younger family members for mobility.
  • Health conditions that physically limit their mobility.
  • In a world that is increasingly becoming smaller, more and more friends, family and acquaintances are relocating and hence at a distance now
  • The psychological burden of seeing peers like friends, ex-colleagues, siblings, cousins and same-age acquaintances passing away.

While the above factors can be a challenge for any elder, for elders who are living alone, they can be devastating.

That is where Community Living comes into the picture. Community Living precisely addresses all of the above challenges that elders face, like lock and key, and all in one package. Community living, as the name implies, centers around a community created for senior citizens or elders, where they can get to live a life of dignity and respect, with comfort and convenience, companionship and quality-of-life, all under one roof.

In such Senior Citizen Homes, every single need of the elder is addressed by a commercial entity or service provider who undertakes this activity for profit, like in any other business. This is a far cry from old-age homes or Vriddhashrams which depend on charitable grants to sustain operations. And where elders from humble backgrounds, who have no close family or have been abandoned by them, must compromise with whatever is available.

The trend of Community Living started in the US in the late 1960s and early 70s with states like Florida and some New England states being the popular location for such communities. The idea has since then gradually spread across the world. In India, such retirement homes or communities began in the early 2000s, and over the years, they are slowly gaining acceptance as a healthy way of spending one’s evening years. To the Government and the society at large, this concept is a boon, as it reduces the cost of providing healthcare to seniors, who are spread across the length and breadth of every city and town in the country.

Benefits and Advantages

Modern-day Senior Citizen Communities are located in Tier-2 cities of India that have a moderate climate. These communities can be a couple of standalone buildings or cluster of villas and cottages, that are served by a dedicated team of workers. Healthy and homely food is prepared in a central kitchen and served in a common dining-room to help the members bond. Housekeeping services ensure all the day-to-day needs of every elder or couple in every unit is attended to. These communities have an in-house doctor, nurses and an ambulance to address medical emergency needs. Entertainment options such as games and TV are available in the clubhouse, while sports, gym and other facilities take care of the health and fitness needs of elders. Most of these communities are gated, with 24×7 security and CCTV coverage. Transportation options such as a bus and cars, with drivers, will be available for outings, on a payable basis. The community may also have plenty of landscaped green spaces for overall health and satisfaction.

Residents who suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases can look forward to specialized care in dedicated CCRCs or Continuous Care Retirement Communities. However, most communities support CCRC like amenities and care within their setup.

Needless to say, all this costs money. Members or elders who would like to move into such communities can explore one or more flexible payment models. This includes one-time lumpsum deposit, or one-time deposit along with monthly rents, or just monthly rents for people who would like to test the waters before making a decision if this is the right community for them. While some amenities and facilities are covered in the recurring charges, special services desired by a resident may be chargeable.

Residents of such communities can benefit from:

  1. Life Enrichment Programs: An annual calendar full of on-campus activities and outings enrich the life of seniors here. All these help elders retain their physical and cognitive faculties well into old age.
  2. Opportunities for Volunteering: These retirement communities are not cut-off from the larger society. Far from that! Elders in such communities can join, or start a new self-help or voluntary group that benefits orphaned children, hospitalized patients, children from low-income families, etc. The sense of giving, combined with involvement in activity can be deeply satisfying to an elder.
  3. Peer to peer support: Given the diversity in age-group of seniors there, such communities can have peer support groups where younger and fitter seniors can be of assistance to older and frail seniors.
  4. Common Interest groups: Needless to say, people with common interests and hobbies can form a group and indulge in their passion.
  5. Health and Nutrition: The food prepared in the central kitchen will be overseen by a senior chef, under guidance from a nutritionist or dietician. Elders with special dietary needs can avail the same at no additional cost.
  6. Fitness Programs: Given the fact that Fitness is paramount for the overall health of a senior, these communities have amenities and a regimen for fitness programs such as Yoga, Tai chi, meditation, and sports.

Who are these service providers?

In India, most of these retirement communities are concentrated in cities like Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mysore, Goa, Pune, Lavasa, Bhiwadi, Jaipur and Dehradun. Pioneers in this industry include Ashiana Housing, Covaicare, Eden Retirement Living, Antara Senior Living, Melur Meadows, The Golden Estate, Eldercare, Samvedna Senior Care, etc.

How to choose one?

  • Weather: Weather is an important factor in the overall health of seniors, so this is top priority.
  • Location: While outskirts of the city is less noisy and polluted, being in a remote location has its own disadvantages such as longer transits to hospitals in the city.
  • Healthcare: The kind of healthcare facilities and monitoring available is an important factor.
  • Amenities: Amenities for entertainment, learning and fitness are important for long-term quality of living.
  • Reputation: How experienced is the service provider in geriatric care and senior citizen homes? Is the entity serious about doing a good job or are they just trying to make a quick buck?
  • Cost and Payment models: Finally, you must be satisfied that the cost is justified and that the payment models are convenient for you.

Senior Citizen Communities in TN

In Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Kancheepuram district and Coimbatore are the most popular hubs for Senior Citizen homes and Retirement Communities. While some are elite and admit elders from NRI or privileged families, many of them are economical and admit elders from middle-class Indian families. While some have existed for nearly 2 decades, some are new. While older projects benefit from experience in geriatric care, newer ones are more update and pack new features to beat the competition.

Chennai and Kancheepuram

  • Melur Meadows
  • Lakeview Home for Senior Citizens
  • Nandhavanam
  • Ziva Arun Excello
  • Kites Senior Care
  • Atulya Living
  • Serene Adinath
  • Lancor Harmonia
  • Ashiana Shubham
  • Bahri Estates
  • Vedaanta Senior Living Pvt. Ltd
  • Vedaanta ELEMENTS Retirement Community
  • The Chennai Homes
  • Aalam Senior Heaven
  • Manolayam
  • HAPPY HOME Senior Citizen Home & Wellness
  • Brindavanam Old Age Home
  • Anandam Old Age Home
  • Sri Poorna Mahameru Trust
  • Primus Senior Living


  • Swasthya Retirement Homes
  • Swarnalayam
  • Covai Chinmayam Senior Living
  • Pavithram Senior Living
  • Nana Nani Homes
  • Paripoorna Shelters
  • Brindavan Senior Citizen Foundation
  • Vedaanta Senior Living Pvt. Ltd
  • HAPPY HOME Senior Citizen Home & Wellness
  • Nandanam Senior Citizen Homes
  • Gujans Paripalana Retirement Community & Senior Citizen Living
  • Sreevatsa Urban Village
  • Vedaanta Satsang Retirement Community
  • Soundaryam Comfort & Retirement Homes
  • Serene Senior Living Pvt Ltd
  • Serene Indus Valley – Columbia Communities
  • Utsav Prashanti
  • Alserv
  • Preetham Senior Citizens Enclave
  • Universal Elder Care


Unlike the past when elders had to de-facto live with close family members and suffer abuse even, today no such compulsions exist. Retirement communities offer a healthy alternative, that combines the best of living with dignity and quality of life, so that elders can enjoy what all they seek in their evening years.

If you are one such elder, do your due diligence and research before picking the community that is just right for you. Involve your family members in this exercise but the final decision must be yours. Once this is done, rest assured, you can look forward to a stellar second innings in life and leaving the field with grace and satisfaction.

Reviewed by Dr Suresh S Venkita, Group Medical Director, Kauvery Hospitals

Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur, Salem, Tirunelveli and Bengaluru, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Tirunelveli – 0462 4006000 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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1 Comment

  1. Anitha Thandeeswaran
    April 28, 14:10 #1 Anitha Thandeeswaran

    This is a great idea for the modern world we live in. Hope that people become more accepting of these trivial western ideas.

    Reply to this comment

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