senior living

The Growth of Senior Living Projects in Indian Cities

When Gayatri’s mother, a retired professor, refused to relocate with her to London, she was left with no choice but to arrange for an old age home for her mom. But the very idea of an old age home seemed so foreign and cold and their reputation so unreliable that she was forced to find other options. A little search on the internet and she stumbled upon the growing trend of Senior Living homes. When Gayatri broached the topic with her mother, she was surprised to find how the ex-professor easily warmed up to the idea of living in a serviced, health-conscious, and peaceful environment of a senior living home, along with other like-minded people of her age. Gayatri never thought it would be so easy.

A Shift in Perception

With the rise in nuclear families and NRIs refusing to leave their aging parents alone, coupled with the open mind-set of the retired community, the tabooed “old-age home” has found a face-lift in the concept of senior living homes. A perfect blend of housing, hospitality, and healthcare, these homes have tie-ups with medical establishments, age-friendly infrastructure, and cooperative staff to cater to the varied nutritional needs of the seniors.

These evolving establishments meant for convenient senior living are redefining the concept of traditional retirement homes and lifting the negativity attached to old-age homes. As Laxmi Sinha, a resident of a senior living homes points out, “The stigma that people used to have regarding retirement homes, is now fading away slowly.”

Today, senior living homes are seen more as a lifestyle choice made by the elderly themselves, as a desirable destination in their sunset years, than as a last resort.

Growth Corridors – An Overview of India’s Senior Living Sector

With improved healthcare facilities and an increased life expectancy, the average senior population is set to boom in India. According to a CII study, the elderly population in India is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18% of the total population. It is estimated that the population above 60 years of age in India will touch approximately 170 million by 2025.

As more and more seniors become financially stable and take independent decisions, they want to live an independent, productive and secured life with a high recreational quotient even after retirement. This aspirational change in the mindset of the senior population of India has thrown open new possibilities for the real estate sector to come up with residential products customized to the specific needs of the elderly. As the senior living industry gains maturity, India opens up to rapid growth opportunities for investors, developers, health care players, service providers and operators in this sector.

Many such projects are coming up in Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kochi in the South, Bhiwandi, Nagpur, Pune and Goa in West, Sohna, Bhopal, Jaipur, Punjab and Dehradun in the North and Kolkata in the East.

Senior Housing Flourish in Outskirts of Major Metros and Tier-2 Cities

Although most seniors would love to reside in the city around family, most of these projects have come up on the outskirts of the metros or in tier 2 cities. The reasons for this are manifold:

Affordability remains a key factor in driving demand for senior living housing projects. With the retired community surviving largely on savings, developers need to keep the construction cost as low as possible to make these homes affordable to the end-users. Since land prices in metros are steep, senior housing has more potential to thrive in the outskirts of metros, where the value of land is less.

Availability of larger land parcels – Senior living requires age-friendly infrastructure and amenities like large gardens, parks, walkable green spaces, and wheelchair-friendly pathways. Tier 2 cities and fringes of metros provide large tracts of land at a cheaper rate which makes the projects viable for both the seller and buyer with the faster movement of inventory and increased absorption levels.

Proximity to healthcare facilities – According to research, over 27 million seniors require specialized medical attention. The availability of quality healthcare facilities is crucial to the success of senior housing projects. Though these homes come with the day-care facilities of minor ailments, they should ideally be built around a distance of 5-8 km from a specialty care hospital. Quality health care is increasingly available in the tier 2 cities with major healthcare providers setting up facilities there, these cities have become ideal locations where senior housing can thrive.

Bouquet of Amenities Ensure Joy of Senior Living

Senior living housing projects are customised residential products for the convenient living of the seniors. As such, several amenities become an essential part of these projects for them to be viable. These amenities provide practical solutions to the living problems of the elderly.

These projects need to have basic facilities including 24×7 power and water supply, 100% power back up, security, maintenance and housekeeping, and customised catering service to attend to nutritional needs and other basic needs of the elderly residents.

Specialized healthcare amenities, crucial to the success of these projects, include assisted care for the ailing, dedicated medical attendants, tie-ups with neighbouring hospitals and in-house medical stores, emergency response systems, doctors on call, nurses, etc.

Seniors today want to be socially active and physically fit. Pursuing their passion is also important to them. Therefore, recreational facilities figure high up in the priority list of offerings in such homes and include transport facilities to and from surrounding social spaces (malls, theatres, restaurants), community rooms, clubhouses, joggers park, special dinners, hobby classes, meditation and spa zones, etc.

While the finer details may differ from project to project, these are some of the key amenities that most senior living projects offer.

Gearing for Imminent Growth

The changing environment of a newly regulated and reformed real estate sector and the growing acceptability of the concept of senior living homes are garnering investors’ interest in the segment. With a sustained demand for the same from the large aging population in decades to come, the growth of the senior housing segment is imminent in the long term. Government policy initiatives like tax incentives and granting special status to these projects are the need of the hour and will help boost demand and drive growth in this sunrise segment.

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