Senior living is popular in Western countries and the trend has started here in India, too. In Indian religious texts, we note that the third stage of life is VANAPRASTHANAM, i.e. after you have fulfilled your worldly duties, you are expected to move out of your young ones’ lives; ultimately, the fourth stage, SANYAS, is to become detached.
The fading joint family system, combined with a steadily increasing life expectancy, has boosted financial independence and the urge to live on one’s own with dignity has given rise to the concept of senior living homes, inspired by the West, in the country.
According to Census of India projections, the elderly as a percentage of India’s total population will jump from 7.4% in 2001 to 12.4% in 2026 and touch 19.7% in 2050. In 2011, India had about 76 million seniors over the age of 60 and this figure is expected to grow to 173 million by 2025, and increase further to about 240 million by 2050. This marked increase in the elderly population will involve a change in an important sociological figure, the “old age dependency ratio”. Interestingly, by 2050, it is estimated that the number of dependent adults in India will be almost the same as the number of dependent children.
In contrast to senior living in the West, the concept of housing for seniors as a specific asset class in India continues to have some social stigma associated with it, although there is a growing realisation among urban households, which have witnessed a marked increase in nuclear families over the past 20 years, that families are no longer equipped to take care of their aged family members. In this changing social environment, concepts such as contemporary retirement homes are becoming both accepted and popular.
Demand for senior living comes from a variety of customer segments with varying needs and wants. However, the need for better healthcare in old age, secure surroundings and a social support system designed to take care of the senior are the prime drivers of demand for such assets.
With the recent relaxation of FDI restrictions on investments in this sector and a population of seniors to cater to over the coming decades, there clearly exists an untapped opportunity for investment and development in this sector. Unlike in Western countries, where the senior living industry is mature, India provides developers, service providers, healthcare players and operators with the opportunity to create solutions that are specific to India, while leveraging experience gained around the world.
There has been a marked increase in the number of senior living projects over the past five years in line with growing acceptability and demand in the sector. Private entities that have already made a foray into the sector include the Ashiana Group of Builders, Paranjape Schemes, Impact Senior Living Estate, Covai Properties, the Brindavan Senior Citizen Foundation and Classic Promoters, among others. Their projects are already operational in such major cities as Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Amritsar, Coimbatore and Chennai.
About the author
Srinivasa Reddy is the Manager, Research for Jones Lang LaSalle in India, based in Bangalore.