Some retirement centers cater to affinity groups

Like-minded retirees are clustering in housing for specific types of senior citizens

Mar.March 27, 2016 12:00 PM

More retirement centers are designating their properties for specific types of senior citizens including ethnic affinity groups.

For example, in Tavares, a small town near Orlando, retired Indian-Americans reside at a 55-plus community called ShantiNiketan (Sanscrit for “Peaceful Home”).

ShantiNiketan features vegetarian meals, Bollywood dance classes, even architectural touches that pay homage to all things Indian.

“We have created a mini-India, a piece of India,” Iggy Ignatius, chairman of ShantiNiketan, told The New York Times.

Ignatius also told The Times that many immigrants who moved from India to the United States in the 1960s and 1970s for educational and professional opportunities are now deciding how to retire.

“Many people were thinking they’d go back to India, but pragmatically it’s not possible,” he told The Times. “Our children are here. Our grandchildren are here.”

Ram Chandran, 77, a former corporate vice president who resides at ShantiNiketan with his wife Geeta, conducts prayers in Hindu each morning, Monday through Friday, at an on-site temple. He and Geeta lead yoga classes at the community’s meditation room.

So-called affinity group communities for retirees have proliferated, providing post-career homes for members of specific religious groups, gays and lesbians, military officers and alumni of certain universities and colleges.

Aegis Gardens is a 64-unit assisted living center in Fremont, California, for  Chinese-Americans. The staff speaks Cantonese and Mandarin and includes a Chinese chef. Tai chi sessions are available daily. The company that owns Aegis Gardens is building a $50 million campus in NewCastle, Washington, for Chinese-American retirees in independent living, assisted living or memory care.

Dr. Mukund Thakar has developed a nursing care program called Indian Nursing Home with eight locations in New Jersey, catering to immigrants from India by employing Indian doctor, nurse, dieticians and aides.

The Desi Center in Jamaica, Queens, caters to aging Bangladeshis with hot halal lunches, instruction in English and a screen that separates men from women when they exercise. [The New York Times] — Mike Seemuth

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