Why is se­nior liv­ing still ‘com­ing of age’ in In­dia?

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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 run­byNGO­sor­gov­ern­ment 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 home­sinIn­dia with mostof 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. 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,

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