Bhageerathy Ramamoorthy started Anandam Old Age Home in Chennai after she retired from a bank job
In 2005, when the floods hit Chennai, killing many and leaving many with material losses, Bhageerathy Ramamoorthy recalls the way the residents of the Anandam Old Age Home cooked 1500 meals a day, packaged, and dispatched them to the people in Ambattur, where the home is located.
“I witnessed tremendous courage and support from the elderly to support flood victims. They took control of every aspect and handled the situation very well, rising up to the occasion on their own,” she says.
Bhageerathy, 65, uses the words “god’s grace”, “purpose”, “love” liberally in her conversations. She started the senior care home in 2003 with 3 elders. Today, there are 105. The elderly share the work in the home, pray, and pursue their hobbies in a space that looks like a family home.
“We feel Anandam Old Age Home is like a Banyan tree,” says Bhageerathy Ramamoorthy, referring both to its longevity and to the fact that they take in whoever comes: “We hope it stays for a long, long time.”
She talks about her inspiration for founding the senior care home: her mother Padma A, who took special care of the elderly in their ancestral house, always serving with a smile, and being patient and loving.
The push to finally start it came with her experiences in Indian Bank, where she worked from 1985 to 1995 in the Villivakkam branch in Chennai. She was posted in the pension department where she interacted with retired people every day.
“These elders would queue up at the bank entrance from 4 am on the first of each month. The branch would open only at 10 o’clock.” When she once asked why they did this, they told her they’d run out of money and needed it for the basics. Sometimes, their sons or daughters would take the money from them. “They would come back to me, crying. At the time, the only way I could console them was by giving them tea and biscuits.”
These events kept replaying in her head. “Imagine if people who have children suffer this much, what about those who don’t have anyone, and also no source of income?” And so Anandam was born.
“Sometimes, the elderly need love and support more than anything for the desire to live,” she explains, adding that the medicines Apollo supplies at no cost also work only when people are truly happy.