Enter the doors of a retirement home called Priya Living in Northern California, and you’ll immediately feel like you’ve been transported to India. In one corner, you can hear the clanking of dishes and the smell of Indian spices; in another corner, the bell of someone doing puja.
The weekly schedule includes various activities, including documentary night, morning yoga, and visits to the Farmers Market on the Priya Bus (aptly renamed the ‘Party Bus’). The vibrant orange and blue color scheme is reminiscent of the color palettes in India, making Priya Living a popular choice for independent South Asian seniors.
Many seniors are left alone in isolated suburbs while their children are busy at work, leaving them bored and lonely. Putting their parents in an American retirement home feels out of sync with Indian culture. Indian retirement homes, on the other hand, provide a welcoming environment that celebrates Indian culture and traditions.
The community-style living at Priya Living is a refreshing change from the isolation that many retired Indian Americans face in the United States. The seniors can be seen in the courtyard, sipping chai and playfully cracking jokes with each other. Regarding retirement, nothing is depressing about this place as the comforting smell of agarbatti (incense) flows through the open front doors.
“Many Indian elders might initially resist living in a retirement community. However, over the years, I have witnessed many residents at Priya Living quickly evolving from fear to stating this is theirs forever home. Our communities strive to be inclusive, and many residents feel at ease here because of the diverse representation of Indian languages, faith, and cuisines. This ends up satiating their desire for connection and togetherness that they typically struggle to find when living alone in a home or even with their children,” shared Rachna Paul, Director of Priya Living.
Indian-American retirement community homes are designed to provide a familiar environment that celebrates Indian culture. They have facilities such as temples and mosques for prayer, celebrating Indian holidays, and maintaining cultural practices to make the experience enjoyable for residents. As more and more Indian Americans reach retirement age, these retirement homes are rising in popularity as a way for elders to grow old comfortably and in a culturally enjoyable setting, while putting their children’s worries at ease knowing their parents can enjoy an active social life.