Nagarajan (84), living in Athulya Assisted Living, said he had been alone for five years and he couldn’t do it anymore after the lockdown was announced. He was dependent on paid help to clean the house and buy groceries, medicines, etc.
“My househelp could not come to work during the lockdown and it made my situation difficult. Though my children living abroad bought essentials for me from online retailers, I became anxious about what will happen next. Getting to understand technology at the age of 84 was impossible for me,” said Nagarajan.
“It was my son’s friend who enquired about assisted living facilities in the city and convinced my son to avail of their services. Though I was sceptical about the whole idea at first, I am happy with my choice,” he added.
The absence of domestic help and the difficulties caused by the pandemic forced many elderly people to explore assisted living facilities.
“There has been a 35 to 40 per cent increase in admissions post the pandemic. Pre-COVID, this was a 100-bed facility but now it has expanded to a 250-bed unit. We ensure that the elderly are not isolated and we keep them engaged through games, yoga, drawing, etc,” said Srinivasan G, CEO of Athulya.
This rising demand can be attributed to the changing perception about assisted living centres and an increased awareness of the idea of moving from retirement homes to senior care. Also, such centres have been getting a high number of enquiry calls. A lot of elderly people who are reluctant to move abroad or to other parts of the country with their kin are seriously exploring this option.
“Earlier, nobody was willing to stay at an assisted living place. After many senior citizens suffered during the pandemic, our occupancy has increased by 50 per cent. The patronage is from those in the 60–95 age group. We provide individual rooms to elderly people and nursing services around the clock. The facility is hygienic and cleanliness optimal,” said Surya Baskar, proprietor of Akshara Living Service—Old age home at Ayanambakkam.