India is home to 1.3 billion people and this population is ageing fast. According to the data, people above the age of 60 years constituted just 6 per of the population in the 1971 Census. As the lifespan increased, this proportion climbed to 8.6 per cent in the 2011 Census and is estimated to be around 10.1 per cent at the moment. The Indian Census projects that the share of elders as a percentage of the total population in the country will be approximately 12.5 per cent by 2026 and may even surpass 19.5 per cent by 2050.
In addition to this, the gradual nuclearisation of traditional Indian joint families has significantly changed the way senior citizens look at post-retirement living. Earlier it was a given that the children would take care of the elders in the family. However, with the families getting smaller this notion is changing. Most people above the age of 55 are looking for independent space that is well-equipped and well suited to their needs to spend their old age as they desire. All these factors combined have given a big thrust to the retirement homes segment in the country.
The retirement home concept is completely different from what it was earlier perceived. The growing desire among seniors to stay independently and their attraction to stay in urban areas or around them that has created opportunities for the development of new senior housing facilities that can effectively resolve the evolving demands. Given the budget constraints that come with city living, there are now some retirement home projects that are being planned on the outskirts of a city and even in Tier 2 and 3 cities. Region-wise, it is the southern cities that have a majority share of 69 per cent in regard to these projects.
Retirement home – what it entails?
While most people believe retirement homes or seniors-only housing to be a new concept, but it actually started taking shape in India about 15 years ago. In most simple terms it refers to housing for people that are over the age of 55 and is designed to suit their needs. Most people even in their 60s are healthy and independent; they are looking for a house that takes care of their well being. Some of the features that people in the segment look forward to are wheelchair friendly campus, anti-skid flooring and an entrance with peepholes. It is also preferred that a convenience store and an ATM (if not a bank) be in the vicinity or within the society / campus.
Given that senior people are more vulnerable to health issues, people in this segment prefer if there is a hospital near the housing complex that they can visit easily at the time of need. Some of the retirement homes, even have a doctor on call on the campus. There are also projects coming up that are looking forward to offering canteen services to people living on their campus. For people in this age group that are looking for some extra support, there are various assisted living concepts that offer services such as caregivers and nursing.
Retirement homes in this new normal
Covid-19 and the subsequent challenges have accelerated the demand for retirement homes in India. The majority of the elderly population, despite their financial resources, had been left to manage without house help or to deal with medical emergencies during the pandemic. This phase has pushed many people in this age group to seek a house in a senior living facility.
They have now started to look for places that offer them the support they are looking for along with offering them the freedom to peruse their passions and interest. Another advantage of living in seniors only housing is that they get the opportunity to socialise and mingle with people of their age and thus not feel lonely.
Estimates project that the elderly population can grow to 173 million by 2026, this is another big indication of the huge untapped potential that lies in this segment. Developers are also aware of the opportunities that are available in this segment. There are many new projects that are coming up to cater to the demands. Given the potential and evolving needs of the segment, it is expected that in the coming years, there will be many more projects that will spring up in this area. Overall, the future seems bright for the retirement home segment.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.