Why is senior living still coming of age in India?
Senior living essentially refers to homes that cater to adults aged 55+ who are looking to live independently in a peer environment. Seniors who gravitate towards such housing options tend to have no major health issues and are active enough to more or less take care of themselves. Such projects usually provide a variety of facilities for recreation and socializing, including a clubhouse, health club or gym, facility management services, squarely focused on the needs of the elderly.
Assisted living, on the other hand, pertains to homes for adults who need considerable assistance to live their daily lives. These seniors are not entirely bed-ridden yet need assistance such as full-time nursing care.
The more traditional old-age homes are establishments usually run by NGOs or government agencies and are populated by senior citizens who can, for any number of reasons, no longer cohabit with their families or are entirely homeless. There are more than a thousand old-age homes in India with most of them offering free accommodation.
Old-age homes, in most cases deservedly, tend to have a poor reputation. However, it is unfair to tar all old-age homes in India with the same brush.
Many such establishments in Delhi, Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal do have fairly good facilities for the aged and provide adequate senior-focused services and amenities in terms of medical care, ambulances, nursing and age-appropriate meals.
GROWTH CORRIDORS FOR SENIOR LIVING
The senior living sector in India is still at a very nascent stage and not many developers have tried to explore this opportunity to its full potential. If we go by the Indian Census projections, the share of elders as a percentage of total population in the country will have increased from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026 and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
The fact that India’s elderly population can grow to 173 million by 2026 suggests that there lies huge untapped potential, with very minimal current supply in the senior living segment. As per ANAROCK data, there are currently around 4,500 senior living units available in the market, and more than 2,000 units are in different stages of construction. Approximately 10 new projects are slated to come up over the next few years.
Geographically, senior living projects were earlier largely concentrated in the southern states of India including Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This geographic distribution was, paradoxically, largely because of outward migration.
Countless educated professionals from these states gravitated to the West for better job opportunities and preferred to settle there if possible. Their parents were left behind, which gave rise to the concept of retirement homes in these states. The concept thereafter spread to other states and cities as well, with both few big and small builders entering this segment.
Kerala has a particularly high number of ageing citizens who will live a lot longer, thanks largely to the excellent healthcare facilities and NRI-originating wealth to pay for it. As per the Ministry of Statistics, the percentage of elderly population in Kerala is nearly 12.6% of the state’s total population, the highest in the country. This caused Kerala to become home to a high density of senior living projects.
Senior living is also seen as a growing trend in cities such as Coimbatore, Puducherry, Goa and Dehradun, which have traditionally been retirement cities. Moreover, since most cities are saturated, the peripheries of most large cities are also attracting such projects because of the less cluttered and more salubrious surroundings suitable for a retired lifestyle, as well as the availability of large tracts of land which can accommodate fullstack senior living projects with all the bells and whistles.
Most of the existing and planned senior living projects are essentially located in the satellite towns of major metros like Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Delhi, and non-metros including Kochi, Jaipur, Bhopal, Coimbatore, Rishikesh and Goa.
In terms of costs, there is slight variation in the overall cost structure, size ranges and other add-on costs from city to city. Prices largely depend on several parameters including the location of the project and builder type.
The senior living sector in India is still at a nascent stage