Part I : Mother’s Perspective

This is a true story experience about my daughter which I would like to share.

I served in the Army as a Short Service Commission Officer. The experience of Indian Army made me strong enough to make my own decisions without anyone’s involvement. But, still initially, I was not confident of choosing an elder care assisted living facility as a career option. In 2015, I joined Epoch Elder Care as the Facility Manager of one of the elder care homes in Gurgaon. As part of my role, I was to reside inside the elder care assisted living facility, and I moved in there along with my daughter, who was just 2.5 or 3 years old at that time.

Since my little daughter was in her tender growing-up age, I was always concerned about her mental growth and development. I was residing inside the facility with all the elderly residents who had dementia or other mental or physical illnesses. My daughter spent most of her time with these elderly residents, since there were no kids of her age in the area. I was concerned that this ‘not normal’ environment may take away her childhood!

What I saw was that with her childhood innocence, my daughter enjoyed going to the rooms of the elderly residents and talking to them. I used to observe, and realized that many times, it was a ‘two-way silent communication’ between my 3 year-old daughter and the 80+ year old residents. She would just go and sit in someone's room and watch a movie with them. The elderly residents would just hold her hand, or pat her and they would sit together for sometime, at times, eat together. I would ask her about what she did and she would say “Mamma I did coloring with nani or I played puzzle with uncle”

Gradually her friends were these residents who were nearly 20 times her age! This was a time when I felt that maybe, she was over-mature for her age. She refused to play with kids of her own age. During those 4 years, as a mother of this young and growing child, I was confused whether this was ok, or do I need to re-evaluate my job, the work I was doing? This was tough for me, and it was also a path that most people I knew had not taken, and hence, I could not get any relevant advice, based on anyone’s experience.

After residing in the facility for 4 years, we then moved out to our own apartment. Now, looking back, 6 years later, I feel that this life that my daughter experienced, has its own pros and cons. She knows elderlies well, she cares for them and respects them. I am so grateful and happy to see this, since this is something which is vanishing from our culture and society. She has seen me handling emergency situations with the elders, even at odd hours, and sometimes I had to leave her alone for quite a long time. On the other hand she now knows the importance and value of one’s life! We read how intergenerational interactions between children and the elders are emotionally beneficial to both the generations, but I have personally seen and experienced it- as a mother and as an elder care facility manager!

Now when she is 8 ½ years old, I have no regrets that she was brought up inside an assisted living facility. There are no issues like depression or social isolation or not interacting with children of her age. She is a happy-going child who excels in her academics, she is a vlogger, an artist and a dancer! Her future goal (as of now) is to become a doctor, a photographer and to serve at Epoch and care for the elderly.

When we were residing in the facility, she always celebrated her birthday with the elderly residents. and now when I have moved out of the facility, she still loves to celebrate her birthdays with the residents, and she comes specially to the Epoch home to celebrate her birthday with her special 80+ year old friends of her childhood! I feel very proud when she tells her classmates that “ my mother saves the lives of the elderly and she is a dementia specialist”- which is still difficult for her to pronounce!

Part II : Daughter’s Perspective

Hello everyone I am Manya. Today I am going to share how it feels to live in a eldercare home.

I love how all people are kind to everyone. Didi and bhaiya (team at Epoch) loved me and cared about me when I was alone in the room.

I think I was two or three years old at that time. On my birthday, I shared my cake with uncle, and it was really fun. I loved to do activities with all the aunties and uncles and Didi and Bhaiya- it was really fun! Rama aunty was my best friend. I loved to draw with all of them. I enjoyed the activities specially carrom. I loved the food of Deepak bhaiya and Teju bhaiya specially the chicken curry. I have given food to Kamla dadi when she didn’t eat. The most great thing is that I loved to play Holi with all of them! I think I had the best time in Vermeer and Frida (Epoch Elder Care homes).

When I shifted to my new home with my mom and amma, I was really really sad about it. I was bored and I felt alone, I was really missing that time when I was in the facility.

I will work in Epoch Frida when I grow up one day!

(This blog is written by Manya herself, only a few spellings have been corrected.)

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