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Senior Living in India: A missed chance

If India intends to leverage its demographic dividend and become the world’s third-largest economy, it must consider the well-being of its senior citizens in its plans. Many developed nations, with a significant portion of their population over the age of 60, are focusing on policies to support their aging populations. India, too, is witnessing a rising elderly population, projected to reach around 194 million, or 41% of the population, in the next decade.

As India transitions from joint families to nuclear families, where both spouses often work, the traditional bonds between grandparents and grandchildren have weakened. This shift is particularly noticeable in urban areas, leading to a scenario where senior citizens often live alone while their children work in other regions. This situation highlights the pressing need for comfortable senior living arrangements, where elderly individuals can live independently and without fear of isolation. It’s important to note that senior living should not be confused with old age homes.

Old age homes historically served as acts of charity, providing shelter to the homeless, destitute, or elderly individuals who were not cared for by their families. However, the lack of supportive government policies and the stigma associated with living in old age homes hindered the cause. What is needed now is a shift in perspective, treating senior living as an infrastructure project rather than just real estate development. Senior living should be viewed as a planned lifestyle choice, not merely compassionate housing. It should encompass healthcare, social engagement, housing, dining, activities, and comprehensive care.

The elderly population in India is on the rise, with projections indicating a substantial increase. This demographic presents an opportunity for the real estate industry to cater to their needs. Many senior citizens invest in real estate as part of their retirement planning, making this segment potentially profitable for industry players. However, there is a significant shortage of senior living facilities in India, and well-crafted policies and regulations can attract private sector investments into this sector. To bridge the gap between supply and demand, senior care facilities should be treated as infrastructure projects from the ground up.

It’s crucial to remember that today’s burgeoning middle class will become seniors in the next few decades. By 2050, the elderly population will surpass the younger population globally, making it imperative for developers to prioritize this demographic. Real estate planning and design should revolve around the needs and social well-being of senior citizens. Senior living should be considered as a distinct category, not merely a subset of charitable housing.


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