Made for the silver years

Made for the silver years

The steadily increasing demographic of the elderly has opened up major avenues in real estate. Adjudged the ‘sunrise sector’ of realty, senior living facilities are finding many enthusiastic takers today, writes Adarsh Narahari

India is witnessing a visible evolution in the way retirement years are spent. There was a time when retirement was considered a time for creating beautiful memories with children and grandchildren.

But today’s 60’s generation is independent, financially stable, has travelled the globe and is on the quest to rediscover the joys of life. The new-age seniors are socially well-connected and are more enthusiastic to revisit their lost passions and interests.

This has resulted in an increasing number of elders exploring senior living communities to spend their retirement years.

It is estimated that there will be more than 240 million people in their late 50’s by 2050, making it the fastest growing demographic in the world. The concept of senior living communities is quite popular in the western countries, but in India, the sector is still at the cusp of an epic beginning.

Thanks to the popularity of nuclear families, many seniors in cities wish to lead an independent life, sans the hassle of maintaining a typical home and depending on unreliable domestic help.

There will be a substantial increase in the demand for senior living communities in the country by 2025, though at present the market size is pretty small. Globally, senior living is a $ 25-billion industry and the US alone has 2,000 senior living projects.

In India, there are around 18 operating projects and several more are lined up. At present, the demand for senior housing in India is about 3,12,000 units. Demographically, India is relatively a younger nation as compared to the US and Japan. 

Understanding the concept

The industry is still in a nascent stage in the country, with many players confusing generic real estate with senior living. Thus, there is a need to create a proper understanding about the senior living concept, which is completely focused on convenience and care.

The quality of services and people available at senior living communities distinguishes it from other residential facilities for seniors. 

Pune and Bengaluru are among the most preferred destinations to set up a senior living community. Other places that are fast emerging as favourite retirement destinations are Coimbatore, Dehradun, Goa and Kerala, which already boast of several tailor-made senior living projects.

These models are available on outright lifetime rent, where a part of the deposit is refundable to the children. There is also the option of buying the apartment, but most of these communities come with an age bar of 55 years for residents. 

Senior living communities are required to be sensitive to the needs of elders and must ensure to address their need for comfort and compatibility. The facilities also need to keenly integrate the elements of Indian culture that gives uttermost significance to seniors.

The community should offer an environment, where the senior residents lead a life of dignity, self-respect and independence. It is important to choose a senior living community based on how well it can cater to all these requirements.

Essentially, these communities must offer an ambience where one can age peacefully and where there are facilities specific to age requirements that change with passage of time. 

Things to keep in mind

The requirements tend to vary for different age groups. Adults falling in the age group of 50-70 years are generally healthy and are capable of looking after themselves.

They can consider investing in a senior community that has either single or three bedroom facility with common amenities such as health club, library, browsing centre, lounge, recreation areas, spa and massage centre, herbal garden, hobby  area, badminton court, golf putting green, table tennis, maintenance, housekeeping, security and facilities to meet travel needs. 

The above 70-year age group should consider investing in facilities that offer assisted living, as they are likely to need continuous medical care and attention. They should opt for a facility that offers a secure and homely environment. 

But mind you, age is not the only deciding factor here. When looking for a home, pay attention to things like accessibility to healthcare facilities, proximity to social facilities, such as temples and meditation centres, connectivity to the city or highways and major transportation hubs.

The senior living community must typically offer an environment with an active social life, where seniors can mingle with like-minded people from similar age group; a facility where they can indulge in activities without having to bother about maintenance, cooking, or cleaning. 

The operating expenditures that is likely to be incurred for regular senior living facility will range anywhere between Rs 15,000-25,000 per month. The luxury level, though cost intensive, is an ideal option for those looking at cherishing their retirement years.

The investment cost will vary from Rs 35,000 - 45000 per month per couple. Most of the senior living facilities are available on long-term lease model.

This will require an initial deposit of Rs 25 - 30 lakhs, followed by the aforementioned monthly expenses, which will be inclusive of food, security, common utilities, engagements, activities, preventive wellness, common transport, basic medical and unit level utilities.

The decision to live in such facilities still faces the initial hiccup of social stigma. Senior living community is often confused with old-age homes, which spells destitution and abandonment in the Indian society. 

At the moment, the senior living concept is absolutely untapped and grossly overlooked market in the country. But in due course of time, this will emerge as the sunrise sector of real estate, offering 360-degrees living of complete comfort, care, safety and enrichment.  

(The author is managing director, Mantri Primus Lifespaces Pvt Ltd)

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