By F.J. Dalal
Lanham, MD: I read with great interest the letter Need information about old-age clubs by K.U. Khan from Las Vegas, NV, published in India Tribune dated October 3.
Seniors are waiting to know how other seniors are doing in retirement. Indian weeklies can do a lot of service by publishing about the activities conducted by associations of seniors elsewhere in various cities.
The New Jersey and New York area has the largest concentration of Indians and seniors and they have a number of such associations, supported by religious groups and other community organizations. They have formulated a Federation of Senior Organizations as well for All Senior Associations in the USA.
There are organizations for seniors coming up all over as their number is increasing when the first generation NRIs are retiring. There is a need as many of them are iving in golden cages of "empty nests" as children have grown up, married and left. There are issues of loneliness, isolation, boredom and anxiety in addition to many health problems. When one spouse passes away, the issue is becoming more acute. They need warm human contacts, as there is no substitute for that.
Indians in general have not assimilated well, in a "melting pot" with the mainstream Americans due to many peculiar reasons, including religious and cultural binds, family attachments, etc. In an individualistic and materialistic culture, unitary families are a norm. The second generation is busy with their careers. Two-income families where both husband and wife work are becoming common. They have domestic household work and growing children to care for. We cannot blame them.
It is time for us to get organized and solve our problems as a group, as many of us are "sailing in the same boat." At many places senior organizations are getting together once or twice a month in some community halls, including temples. They celebrate social, religious, national and other festivals. They eat together and celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and other social events. Meeting and eating together is good, but it is not as good as living together in a retirement community.
I have visited over 10 retirement communities in Metropolitan Washington Area where I have been living for over 40 years. I am 82 years old and have retired since May 1, 1991 and have been actively connected with two senior groups, one at Sri Siva Vishnu Temple (SSVT) and the other at the Jain Center.
Many other religious groups are serving the community by organizing retirement communities. As the number of baby-boomers is getting ready to retire in large numbers, retirement communities are becoming a lucrative business and commercial operators like Marriott, Hyatt, and others are already in this business.
I do not understand why Indian hotel and motel owners are still not thinking in this direction. Some of the motels can be converted into senior retirement homes. It could be a chain operation as well. The Indian motel owners association should seriously consider about this project. The Indian Medical Association as well should seize this opportunity to serve this aging group in collaboration with motelliers.
We have built enough magnificent temples. Now it is high time to build retirement communities in major metropolitan areas for these seniors After having made enough money, let us now venture into serving the needs of the community. Serving the community is also part of the religion in addition to rituals, prayers, studies of dogmas and shastras. Many seniors are suffering in silence and are dropping out one by one. We can make heaven on this earth for the aged.
By F.J. Dalal