India is home to 1.3 billion people, and this population is ageing fast. According to the data, people over the age of 60 constituted just 6 percent of the population in the 1971 Census. As the lifespan increased, this proportion climbed to 8.6 percent in the 2011 Census and is estimated to be around 10.1 percent 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 percent by 2026 and may even surpass 19.5 percent 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 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 home segment in the country.
The concept of a retirement home is completely different from what was previously perceived. The growing desire among seniors to live independently and their attraction to stay in urban areas or around them have 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 percent 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, it actually started taking shape in India about 15 years ago. In most simple terms, it refers to housing for people over the age of 55 that 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 a 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 their housing complex that they can visit easily in their time of need. Some of the retirement homes, even have a doctor on call on 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 who 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 housing in a senior living facility.
They have now started to look for places that offer them the support they are looking for, along with the freedom to peruse their passions and interests. 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 coming up to cater to the demands. Given the potential and evolving needs of the segment, it is expected that in the coming years, many more projects will spring up in this area. Overall, the future seems bright for the retirement home segment.