India Home’s Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi speaks on two panels on mental health and aging

Talk on Dementia Care at Asian American Community Development Conference

Dr. Vasundhara Kalasaudi, E.D., India Home gave a talk at the 10th Anniversary Asian Americans for Equality Community Development Conference

“I never thought when I studied to become a geriatric psychiatrist, I would have to diagnose my own father.” Dr. Vasaundhara Kalasapudi said. The sentence was the emotional opening to her presentation at the popular “EqualiTalks” at  “Achieving Equality for All” Community Development conference organized by Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). As one of four speakers voted in by members of the non-profit community, Dr. Kalasapudi spoke about Equality in Dementia Care among South Asian elders. Adopting a culturally sensitive approach, whether it is for congregate meals or creative aging activities such as art classes or writing workshops, helps to ground affected seniors by offering a sense of comfort and familiarity. Dr. Kalasapudi experienced the travails of taking care of her father who suffered from vascular dementia and watched her friends struggle with providing culturally sensitive care for their parents. These experiences, she said, convinced her that Asian dementia patients need to be offered a different set of treatment options than are currently prevalent.

Panelist  on Mental Health Needs in Asian American Pacific Islander communities in NYC

On October 24, 2017, the Asian American Federation released their newest report titled Overcoming Challenges to Mental Health Services for Asian New Yorkers. This report is based on a year-long study that included focus groups, interviews, and meetings with approximately 20 Asian nonprofit organizations providing direct or indirect mental health services in New York City. The report, according to the organization’s Press Release highlights the increasing visibility of mental health needs in New York City’s Asian community and provides recommendations for addressing the major challenges in increasing mental health services for the Asian community. Dr. Kalasapudi was part of a panel of leaders heading community based non-profit organizations who were invited on the occasion of the report’s release to talk about mental health needs in their communities. Other panelists included Chhaya Chhoum from Mekong NYC, Dr. Yu-Kang Chen from Hamilton-Madison House, and Linda Lee from Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (KCS). Speaking about her experiences as both a practicing Geriatric Psychiatrist and the Founder and Executive Director of India Home, Dr. Kalasapudi stressed the need for preventative and ongoing mental health services that were culturally appropriate for Asian patients. She talked about the various services that India Home offers such as yoga, wellness talks, South Asian Indian and Bengali congregate meals, celebrations such as Diwali and Eid, as a means to prevent dementia and depression among the South Asian population in New York. 

India Home is hiring!

India Home is hiring for the following positions. Please click the titles below to go to the job description and application page. Spread the word to your networks!

Director of Programs

Care Coordinator and Program Coordinator

Volunteer Manager through New York City Civic Corps

Volunteer Manager through New York Immigration Coalition

We are excited to grow our team and better serve South Asian seniors in New York City!

Celebrating Guru Nanak Gurpurab


Mr. Batti with a photo of Guru Nanak on the table

India Home members come from all different faiths and religions and we celebrate a lot of religious and cultural holidays. We celebrated Sikhism by holding an event for Guru Nanak Gurpurub on Monday, November 21st. Gurpurub generally falls in Autumn and is considered a most sacred festival by Sikhs because it honors the birthday of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak is the first of the 10 Sikh gurus or spiritual teachers.

Mr. Raghubir Bhatti, our active and jovial member, took the lead to present a short informative program on Gurpurub. He spoke about the major principles of the Sikh faith and emphasized its inclusiveness. Sikhs make no distinctions among people based on caste, class or gender. Its tenets are firmly rooted in the belief that all people are equal and preach that people of different races, religions, or sex are all the same in the eyes of God. The religion believes in the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious event or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer. And since no birthday celebration is complete without something sweet, our seniors shared fruit and ladoos, an Indian sweet.

The path to citizenship for seniors – tips from MOIA

Ms. Susana Preyera of MOIA speaks about citizenship at India Home's Desi Senior Center in Jamaica, Queens

Ms. Susana Preyera of MOIA speaks about citizenship at India Home’s Desi Senior Center in Jamaica, Queens

Susanna Pereyra of Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) visited India Home’s Desi Senior Center on Thursday, February 4, to talk about how citizenship rules were different for older immigrants.

Some Exceptions

Those who are 50 years old or above at the time of filing for naturalization and have held a green card for 20 years are exempt from the English language requirement, for instance. However, these applicants are still required to take the Civics test. There are separate rules for those who are older than 55 years. Elders may be eligible to take the test in their native language. In addition, there are also exceptions to the Civics Test and the continuous residence requirement, among others. For more information, see the USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance.

Ms. Pereyra spoke through an interpreter who translated into Bangla for the benefit of our seniors. The team also distributed flyers with more information.

The Office of the Comptroller also released an updated version of the Immigrant Rights and Services Manual in Bangla, which will be distributed at our center through the month of February. Please click here to download it in English. Please click here to download it in Bangla.

The terrible problem of elder abuse – and how to find help

Shagufta Shah of the Family Justice Court Queens, NYC translated the information into Hindi to our members

Shagufta Shah of the Family Justice Court Queens, NYC translated the information into Hindi to our members


Josh Rotkin of JASA explained different kinds of elder abuse and where to seek help


A senior is struck or pushed around. Or locked in a room and denied food or water. He or she is forced to sign their bank accounts or property over to a family member or are unable to prevent large amounts being withdrawn from their account. 

Elders are afraid to report abusers

Actions like the ones detailed above are considered abuse. Often the victims are afraid to report these happenings or won’t report them because the abuser is a family member. Elders may be afraid of the family member retaliating and abusing them farther.

How to get help

On  October 26th, seniors at India Home’s Sunnyside location learned how to seek help for abuse.  The Family Justice Center of Queens brought Josh Rotkin and Shagufta Shah from JASA ( Jewish Association Serving the Aging) to talk about the different types of elder abuse, talk about cases and detailed ways these organizations could help seniors.  It was a very informative and eye opening session and our seniors had a productive discussion afterward.

Ways to find help:Family Justice Center Queens


Advocacy: India Home members give testimony at DFTA’s public hearing


Commissioner Donna Corado of DFTA

DFTA visits the Sunnyside Community Center

Sunnyside Community Center was all a-buzz this morning. Donna Corado, the Commissioner for NYC’s Department for the Aging and her staff had come to visit. Her purpose? She was there to listen to older adults, their caregivers, community partners, advocates and service providers in Queens give testimony on issues that impact New York City’s older adults. She also wanted to deliver some good news: For City Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015- June 30, 2016), the Department’s budget is projected at $325 million, approximately 14% more than Fiscal Year 2015 which is about 21 million dollars more. What’s more, the City will, for the first time, offer mental health services for seniors at 20 centers. Commissioner Corado began by urging all of us to look out for one other. She said DFTA’s mission is to eliminate ageism from New York City.

 IMG_0123Our members testify

Members Chandrakant Sheth and Usha Mehta, and a staff member, testified for India Home. Sheth and Mehta spoke of how much they liked coming to India Home and taking part in it’s culturally appropriate services like festivals, vegetarian meals and trips. However, they also advocated for increased transportation services for seniors and translation services that would enable older adults with limited language ability greater access to services. Our staff member spoke about how India Home is the only secular orgaization serving older adults of South Asian descent in New York City and we provide programming for over 1000 South Asian seniors a year. Our catchment area in Jamaica queens has over 23,000 adults of South Asian origin in it – and the Desi Senior Center alone serves over 120 people a day, three days a week. Many of our members are isolated in their immigrant communities and our services provide a means to learn and integrate into American life. For instance, our trips to Manhattan and Amish County showed our members how different cultures cooexist in our city and country. DFTA spent about 2 hours at Sunnyside Community Service Center and made sure they heard from a diverse, articulate and concerned group of seniors. For our part, all of us at India Home were happy to have our views heard.

Breast Cancer Awareness Group


Breast Cancer Awareness Self Help Peer Group at Desi Senior Center

India Home partnered with Sapna NYC, our sister organization, to start a breast cancer awareness group at the Desi Senior Center. We had a group of eight energetic women led by our senior, Saleha Begum. They met every Tuesday for eight weeks. Sapna NYC’s Community Health Worker, Laila Akhter, instructed the group during each meeting. At the end of the eight sessions, our group participated in a mammogram workshop. During the eight weeks and even afterwards, the women from the Self Help Peer Group outreached to two or three isolated women in the community to deliver health education.

Our eight seniors coming together is known as a peer education group. Peer education has been found to be an effective method of public health education because people are more receptive to learning and absorbing information from their peers. In addition, most public health education doesn’t always reach vulnerable or isolated people. This makes peer education a more effective method because it works through community networks.

Breast cancer awareness is important to the South Asian community. Many women do not know how to check for lumps and other symptoms that may lead to more a serious condition. We hope that with the beginning of this peer group, we inspire other women in the South Asian community to reach out and access important public health services.

First time in Manhattan: India Home’s Desi Senior Center visits the Big Apple

Many of the seniors who attend India Home’s Desi Senior Center in Jamaica had never been to Manhattan. This is only natural, given their age and the fact that many of them are new immigrants to our fair city.image_21052310365_o

But all that changed on August 31st. On that day, India Home took them on a day trip to Manhattan and showed them some of it’s most iconic sights.

Sharing stories on the bus to Manhattan

Keeping cultural sensitivities in mind, there were two buses. One for the ladies and another for the gentlemen. Of course, couples got to sit together!

The first stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art – one of the world’s largest and finest art museums.

image_21052367815_oThe entire museum is about 2 million square feet, so obviously there was no way our members were going to see all of it in a day. image_20429795984_oHowever, they did manage to see several of the highlights. The seniors, nearly all of them Muslims, particularly enjoyed the Islamic World section of the Museum. It has an amazing collection of art, calligraphy and objects from all corners of the Islamic world.

Quran Stand: Dated 1360. Made by Hasan [ibn] Zain ibn Sulaiman al-Isfahani.

Lunch was in Central Park, delivered by Vintage Restaurant. Talk about service!

In Central ParkMany of our members did their afternoon prayers on the grass.

The next leg of the trip took members around New York, with our guides pointing out the city’s landmark buildings and spaces. Our members marveled at the Empire State building, the crowds in Times square, Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, Union Square, and the latest addition to NYC’s skyline—the Freedom Tower. They also stopped by the WTC Memorial.

Then it was on to Battery Park and back to Queens.


Nargis Ahmed, the Community Liaison Director for India Home said: 

“I was very happy that we could do something like this for them. Everyone left in a happy mood.”

India Home goes to Amish country!

It’s Fall! The leaves are turning orange, red and gold and there’s apples and pumpkins spilling out onto the sidewalks. To celebrate the beginning of Fall, India Home took a day trip to Amish Farm and House in Pennysylvania’s Lancaster country. The mood was festive as 52 seniors and staff set off early by bus for a drive through the vibrant countryside.

The miles disappeared as many of our members told jokes and shared poems. After brief stops for tea and samosas we arrived at Amish House and Farm where we met our guide, Mr. Sattar who was as interesting as the stories he had to tell.

 Mr. Sattar was from Afghanistan, and apparently speaks English, French, Arabic and Farsi. He was very informative on the Amish way of life. Our seniors learned about the way the Amish dress (simply!) and live (frugally!).

As one member marvelled, “even if they have a million dollars they don’t show off.”


The miles disappeared as many of our members told jokes and shared poems. After brief stops for tea and samosas we arrived at Amish House and Farm where we met our guide, Mr. Sattar who was as interesting as the stories he had to tell. 

Open air Lunch!

Open air Lunch!

After a delicious Indian lunch of pakodas, thepla and barfi, our seniors wandered through the many attractions the farm had to offer.


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Still dancing after all these years: India Home celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi at Rubin Museum

Ganesh Chaturti is a special festival in India dedicated to Ganesha- the beloved Elephant headed god. Hindus all over the world worship the deity as the lord of beginnings and the remover of obstacles. The lovely ladies of IndiaHome Inc. presented a vibrant program of dance, music and ritual at the Rubin Museum’s Himalayan Heritage Meet-Up earlier this month. Our seniors, some of whom were in their 80’s, performed the vigorous Ras Garba, a folk-dance from the Indian state of Gujarat. To the delight of the audience at the Rubin, our brightly-dressed dancers swirled to the beats of the traditional dhol in synchronized steps, rhythmically striking their colorful sticks together.


Photo: Chotalal Mehta

Earlier in the evening, our seniors demonstrated a puja and aarti to Lord Ganesh. There was also a talk (held at Rubin’s own 11th century Ganesha statue) that explained the spiritual significance behind the unique iconography that characterizes Lord Ganesh. For instance, did you know that Lord Ganesh’s vehicle of choice, the rat, symbolizes human desire and greed?


Photo: Ronald Schvartzman for the Rubin Museum

The Rubin Museum featured our program prominently on their blog: 

It was a warm, colorful, and festive event for all, and the Rubin community looks forward to welcoming the lovely ladies of India Home, Inc., back to the Museum!”