Kochi: Life begins at 55! Yes, at Bless Retirement Living it certainly does. When I first stepped on to the premises of this place in South Vazhakulam, Aluva, it came across to me as just another community living space with apartments, villas, a nice driveway and lawns. But Bless is anything but ordinary. It is
Kochi: Life begins at 55! Yes, at Bless Retirement Living it certainly does. When I first stepped on to the premises of this place in South Vazhakulam, Aluva, it came across to me as just another community living space with apartments, villas, a nice driveway and lawns. But Bless is anything but ordinary. It is not your run-of-the-mill old age home or retirement space.
Dr. Sanju George, Senior Consultant in Psychiatry at Rajagiri Hospital, Kochi, says: “Bless is among the very best I have seen, even in Western countries. Its core strengths are the high quality personalised care and the fulfilling community environment it provides.”
Lija Gijo, Executive Director of Bless, reflects with a smile: “From wheelchair-access spaces and handrails to diffused lighting and furniture with rounded-edges, we have ensured that all the indoor and outdoor amenities are elderly-friendly.”
There are vertical gardens in each living space, wooden flooring to minimise slips and falls, and interiors which can be customized according to each individual’s or couple’s preferences. You can choose from a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment at Bless. The facilities also include a library, common dining area, business centre and a meditation room.
Frequent trips to religious places and resorts and sightseeing trips are also arranged for the residents. There is a lot of camaraderie and shared affection that goes around, especially when you live together or travel. “The quality of all the superior facilities at Bless can be conveyed through words and photos of Bless, but the synergy of the community living here is the real blessing. I can’t explain it, you need to be here among us to experience it,” says 59-year-old resident George Kadankavil, Editor, Bethlehem News.
When you move into Bless, you don’t need to give up your professional life. There are facilities for pursuing your profession here, whether you are a lawyer, teacher or a businessperson. Residents continue to engage in their fields of expertise through the community’s social outreach initiative ‘Pratheeksha’, flagged off earlier this year. It aims at creating an interactive platform where the knowledge and skills of the residents are utilised for the benefit of women and the youth of society.
Lija, her husband Jijo Antony, Managing Director of Bless and Babu Joseph, Director spent several months prior to 2014 discussing with friends and family about old age and retirement living, and different opinions came out of it. A ‘life with dignity’ was something that rung in their minds repeatedly. And thus was born the concept of a premium living space for retired individuals and families.
How does the younger generation see this vast change of senior citizens opting for community living spaces, post-retirement? “My parents are fiercely independent and I am the only child, who lives thousands of miles away. The concept of assisted living is convenient and hassle-free, and offers constant care alongside freedom. It provides peace of mind for me as a child to know that in case of an emergency, they are surrounded by medical personnel as well as vetted helpers,” affirms Pooja Jose, a 32-year-old academician based in London.
Madhu Babu, 49, is quick to point out the need for trained caregivers in such facilities, “On realising the fact that caregivers do all sorts of things that the parents don’t wish their children to do for them – bathing, feeding and toilet help – one starts appreciating the value of caring. As a society, we need to underscore that value and be willing to pay for it. Give better training to such aides,” said Madhu who owns and operates Wisdomania – Learning for Life Institute in Kochi.
Loneliness is probably the worst aspects of old age that has to be tackled. Safe and secure community living spaces for the elderly help the anxious older citizens cope well. “I chose Bless because it provides active senior living with good social support. Their ‘right to live’ concept is advantageous to the residents and the employees are fully committed to the philosophy of geriatric care,” says a 71-year-old resident, Dr. A Ramachandran, former medicine professor, administrator and police surgeon.