Let's retire in style

Last Updated 19 June 2014, 16:24 IST

Sunset homes: Increasingly, apartments catering specifically to senior citizens
are dotting the landscape of Bangalore. Bindu Gopal Rao analyses the trend

The twilight years of your life must be more comfortable than ever because you have worked hard all your life. Naturally, then, your home is where you would like to spend more time and it must be amenable to your needs at that point in time.

Builders are today recognising that senior citizens need homes to suit their lifestyle and are coming up with a slew of ‘retirement homes’. Well, whoever said that life begins at 60 was certainly not wrong.

Projects galore

A plethora of retirement homes are in various stages of construction in Bangalore and across the country. Brigade Group has launched Parkside at Brigade Orchards, an integrated township spread over 130 acres in Devanahalli, near the Kempegowda International Airport.

They have tied up with Age Ventures India (AVI), an entity floated and supported by HelpAge India, for setting up of these retirement homes with assisted living facilities.

Urbana Serene, a 314-unit apartment complex, part of Ozone Urbana, Bangalore is based on enabling a living environment that helps the senior community lead a peaceful, healthy and contented life in their silver years.

Tata Housing’s Riva Residences in Bangalore provides an active community dwelling and is crafted to care and ensure comfort, security, privacy and also enables all its residents to lead an independent and a secure life.

Spread over 14 acres, Disha Direct’s Nulife at Kamshet near Lonavala is a senior living retreat of international standards where older individuals can age gracefully in unity with nature, in a pollution-free environment, throughout the year.

Specifically designed keeping the requirements of senior citizens as a priority by renowned architects for senior living projects – Perkins Eastman USA. Medical facilities include Oyster and Pearl hospital with an ICU, 24x7 ambulance service, routine check-up facility, physiotherapist on call and trained staff in all departments.

Mantri Primus Eden is a state-of-the-art luxury senior living space located at Kanakapura with 75 fully furnished residential units that are available only on lease, and have been exclusively designed for seniors over the age of 55.

The differentiator

A retirement home is executed in a manner very different from a regular apartment, beginning with the layout itself. Features incorporated in the apartment are from the perspective of the safety of the residents as well as for convenience.

“Walkways, parks and gyms are designed keeping senior citizens in mind and what you see in these complexes is vastly different from the average apartment complexes.

Value additions in terms of social interaction opportunities for the residents as well as emergency services are made available,” explains M R Jaishankar, Chairman & Managing Director, Brigade Group.

“Vertical movements need to be reduced or eased with lifts and escalators wide enough to accommodate a stretcher or a wheel chair.

Many of the seniors require assistance from nurses and so a connecting room needs to be there for the medical staff to check on them frequently. The room should be equipped with oxygen gas cylinders and other such medical requirements. Kitchens and furniture need to be ergonomically designed to facilitate easy access,” opines Kalpana Murthy, Associate Director, Residential Services, Cushman & Wakefield.

“Internally, grab bars in bathrooms and skid-proof floor tiles are just some aspects. It is to be noted that the members can enjoy clubhouse facilities and other amenities offered by the developer and lead a life as independent as they wish,” says N Mohan, Executive Vice President, Ozonegroup. Architecturally, the homes of senior citizens need to be designed keeping in mind their special needs.

“We learnt through our primary research that the three key things required in senior living life spaces are quality in terms of living conditions and social fabric, medical care management and secure, engaging and like-minded environment along with a latent wish of being an integral part of a young society, an active living lifestyle,” explains Brotin Banerjee, MD & CEO at Tata Housing.

Customer advantage

An increasing elderly population along with an increase in nuclear families has generated a demand for retirement homes. “With the increasing trend of nuclear families and migration to different cities because of better work opportunities, the demand for senior living homes is increasing in India.

The concept is now picking up as more and more developers are developing senior living homes and one can choose projects as per his choice of location, amenities and specifications,” says a spokesperson from India Property.

There are facilities which have to be imperatively intermeshed with the design of the building.

“As such the demand for retirement homes is expected to go up. Nowadays people are buying homes from the perspective of further renting them out to retired people,” says Anuj Goel, KDP Infrastructure.

Naturally, the response to the concept has been very encouraging and sales have been positive. The concept of senior community living is catching up and the market for such products is on the increase.

“It should be appreciated that many senior couples want to enjoy their freedom and live life the way they please without the burden of living along with children and adjusting to their situations. At the same time, they need to be looked after in several ways.

Of course, there are many who choose to live here as their children are overseas,” says Mohan.

“Seniors retiring after 58 or 60 are affluent Indians who don’t mind spending on such homes that take care of food, housekeeping, health care, medical treatment, parking and security, allowing them to enjoy every sunrise and sunset for the coming years.

Due to special features and different arrangement than normal homes, these projects cost a little more than the others,” adds Pawan Jasuja, Director, Finlace Consulting.

Challenge factor

The primary question on the minds of prospective customers is invariably the services on offer, and the developers’ ability to deliver the services. “According to us, the main challenge for the senior living in India is the social stigma which is attached to the whole concept.

Consumers are not well-informed and always confuse senior living homes with old-age homes, but significant numbers of seniors today are well aware of the global standards and lifestyle, independent, socially connected and monetarily stable post retirement,” says Banerjee.

“There are a lot of factors included while marketing this concept, which will help to reach the right target audience, like selecting the right medium to market this concept, understanding and profiling of the target audience, communication – the way the concept is presented,” says Santosh Naik, MD & CEO of Disha Direct Marketing Services Pvt. Ltd.

“People belonging to this segment will use their hard-earned money to buy such apartments which are specially designed for them. They will feel a climate of safety as these projects provide complete safety to the residents.

Initially there might be some problems in marketing, but it will gain momentum in due course of time,” hopes J S Rana, Director, Paradise Infrasolutions Pvt. Ltd.
The social stigma attached with retirement homes is slowly eroding.

Nearly 12.4 per cent of India’s population will be over 60 years by 2020, so the demand for such formats is bound to grow as people are increasingly aware of the special needs of a senior citizen physically, as well as emotionally.

Snehal Mantri, Director, Marketing & HR at Mantri Developers opines, “The retirement homes concept is still in its nascent stage in India and hence the acceptance level is low.

The concept of housing for the elderly still carries a social stigma in the country, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of the $25 billion senior housing industry worldwide. Since the target audience for this segment is niche, the marketing approach and medium to market the project is selective and should be able to reach them directly or indirectly.”
Welcome to the second innings!

(Published 19 June 2014, 16:24 IST)

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