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New Indian Retirement Community in California

Residents of Priya Living, an affinity retirement community, celebrating the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
Residents of Priya Living, an affinity retirement community, celebrating the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
New Indian Retirement Community in California
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Young people come from around the world to work in Silicon Valley. Some, however, are struggling to find the best way to care for their aging parents.

Increasingly, they are turning to “affinity” retirement communities. These are communities where older people from countries like India and China can live near, but not with, their adult children.

These types of communities are a change from traditional Asian customs where parents and children normally live together.

Asha RaoRane moved from India to be closer to her three daughters who had immigrated to San Francisco.

She said, “The children are so busy these days, they are all the time working, taking care of their kids, so we do not want to interfere in their lives.”

Her daughters explored a traditional senior retirement community. But they had trouble finding one that their mother would fit into. Eventually, they found Priya Living, a retirement community for people with similar interests, such as yoga and meditation.

Arun Paul is a real estate developer. He developed Priya Living as a place for his parents to live. His parents moved from Los Angeles four years ago and are still in a ground floor apartment.

Paul said, “In living here in America, as the son of immigrants, I’ve realized that there’s very unique needs that immigrants have.”

“The old system was based on a different time when women were in the house, really taking care, in many cultures, of their husband’s parents,” Paul said. “Obviously the role of women in society has changed globally.”

Residents of Priya Living, an affinity retirement community, out on a walk.
Residents of Priya Living, an affinity retirement community, out on a walk.

A conflict of new and old

For Bhagyashree RaoRane and her mother Asha, finding Priya Living has been a dream come true.

“We walked in and instantly it was like walking into an Indian community in India,” said RaoRane. “Even the building is painted the same color as so many of the buildings in India are painted.”

Others are not so sure about this type of affinity communities.

Nagendra Prasad, 62, and Manjula Neelakantaiah, 53, came from India to visit their daughter who works for Google. They have stayed at Priya for the two-month visit.

“Really, in the beginning we were surprised,” Neelakantaiah said. “In India the younger people, they definitely take care of the aged people.”

For Dr. Byravan Viswanathan and his wife Lakshmi, the community is not a perfect fit.

They were born and raised in India but spent much of their adult lives in a small town in Pennsylvania. They made many American friends there, and they had adapted to a Western lifestyle.

When they moved to Priya, they had to re-learn Indian ways of living again. They found that people were speaking languages that they had not used for many years. Their daughter is now looking to find a more American community for them.

Welcoming everyone

While the majority of Priya’s residents come from India, Paul said the community welcomes people of all backgrounds. There are a few non-Indians who call Priya home.

Carlos McCann is an 89-year-old WW II veteran. He has lived in the community for almost 20 years, long before it was purchased and remodeled to become a majority-Indian community.

“Everything has sort of come together at this location- it’s like it’s the center of the world,” he said.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Deana Mitchell originally wrote this story for the Phil Dierking adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Would you prefer for your older parents to live in a retirement community, or your home? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

adapt - v. to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation​

affinity - n. a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests​

meditation - n. the act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating​

unique - adj. used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else​

yoga - n. a system of exercises for mental and physical health​