Indians break from family living, into retirement villages in twilight years

By Rachel O’Brien ,AFP

NERAL, India — When Usha Mantri brushed off frowning traditionalists and moved into a retirement village, she became a pioneer for a generation of Indians who are increasingly breaking the custom of multigenerational households. She is now happily settled in the peaceful retreat by India’s western mountains, which has an on-site Hindu temple and offers ayurvedic massage �X and is a two-hour drive from her son in Mumbai. ��I have a very different type of thinking,�� the 69-year-old told AFP in her studio apartment at the Dignity Lifestyle Retirement Township, one of the first of its kind in India.

��I want to give full freedom to my child, and I want full freedom for myself.�� Mantri was the first resident to move into the Dignity complex, which looks more like a modest holiday resort, nine years ago. She now has more than 60 neighbors, while other retirement communities are springing up around India. While most senior citizens still prefer to live with their families, alternative options are increasingly in demand as the country develops, children migrate and their parents live for longer. ��I think very slowly minds are getting changed,�� said Hemlata Parekh, one of Mantri’s neighbors at Dignity and a former teacher. Parekh, 82, has siblings in Mumbai but no children, and said it would be difficult for her to manage household chores and transport in the city. Dignity, however, has a communal dining room, round-the-clock security and an in-house doctor. There is a wing with special care for those with dementia, while for the more active retirees there are monthly shopping trips and occasional picnics. ��It is a hassle-free retirement township, in a real sense,�� said Parekh.