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License to Care

Walk through a day in the life of Venkat Sanjeev, who runs an assisted living facility for seniors in Macon, GA.

Although I am from the construction and hospitality businesses, my typical day involves more than just bricks and mortar. It is a day that encompasses the business of giving care to all age groups.

My first stop is at the Early Trails Pre-school and Day care Center in Macon, which I run. The school is on the same road as my house, so logically that is the first stop. From there I drive down to the hotels that I own- the Ramada Inn and Hawthorn Suites- where my central offices are located. After I am through with the nitty-gritty of the hospitality business and a couple of building projects that are coming up, I visit the Belair at Macon, an assisted living facility for seniors that I run. My evenings are spent with my family- wife Manojna who is an anesthetist, and eight year old son Hemant.

Photos of Belair at Macon assisted living facility, and (right below) Manojna, Hemant and Venkat Sanjeev.

When I bought the assisted living facility, it was closed and owned by a bank. I ventured into this business because as a medical doctor from India, this was something I always wanted to do. I see this (and the day care center) as a non-profit venture, and as a way of giving back to the community.

The brochure for Belair says that it is a building block for affordability in assisted living. At $1500 per resident and $2700 per couple, we are steadfast in providing the best prices possible. Belair is a celebration of the small-town values of caring, cooperation, safety and support.

Assisted living is a long care alternative for seniors who need more assistance than is available in a retirement community, but who do not require the heavy medical help that nursing homes offer.

Belair at Macon is 17,000 sq ft of care and compassion, nestled in three acres of land. It is licensed for 45 retirees, with 45 rooms and staffed by caring administrators and Certified Nurse Assistants. The facility has a restaurant where we provide three meals. Residents enjoy regular outings and trips to mall and the Church. We even have a barber's shop in the facility. We offer private and companion suits, dementia care, respite care and adult day care.

There are currently no Indians in the facility. But Iím hoping that as the generation of seniors moves from the 60s to the 70s, we will have some people from the community avail of the facility.

Although Indian seniors traditionally live with their children, assisted living centers are a better alternative for those in the 70 plus age group and need some assistance in their daily life. Some of the residents might have impaired memories due to Alzheimerís, or suffer from urinary incontinence. At Belair, we have a program called Respite Care, which is suitable for Indian seniors who can stay with us for short times like a week when the kith and keen go on a trip. In these present days when both spouses work, providing care for seniors who need assistance at home could be challenging. An assisted living center is a better alternative in these cases.

It is my dream to start an assisted living facility back in Hyderabad and Vizag, and provide seniors there with the same facilities that are available here. We have presented our proposal to the Andhra Pradesh government, and I hope that my dream will bear fruit soon.

With Belair, life has come a full circle in providing care for all age groups of the community. Nothing can give me more satisfaction!

-Venkat Sanjeev
As told to Veena Rao