Housing for senior citizens: Huge mismatch between demand and supply; communities need to be redesigned to cater to elderly

  • By 2050, we will have more people in their 60s than the population of most countries

  • Senior living communities support seniors to be in better health and be more productive

  • Development of the sector will need a holistic approach addressing the key needs of seniors

India has a population of about 116 million senior citizens and the demography is growing at 1.2 percent annually. The impact of this will take some time to be visible but it is estimated that by 2050, India will have about 300 million seniors. This is also impacted by the increase in life expectancy and nuclear families. To put matters into perspective, by 2050, we will have more people above the age of 60 years than children below the age of 15.

India will require to be prepared to support this change.

Today, the 60s are the new 40s. There is a new approach towards ageing and the traditional view of retirement is changing rapidly. People in their 60s have earned valuable assets such as expertise in a particular field and influence in society. These golden agers are poised to start new careers, businesses, philanthropic activities, coaching in their 60s and will create significant economic value, well into their late 70s. And they are doing this at the peak of their expertise and influence. They are creating a new demographic dividend.

 Housing for senior citizens: Huge mismatch between demand and supply; communities need to be redesigned to cater to elderly

Representational image. Reuters.

This demographic dividend will have a scale. By 2050, we will have more people in their 60s than the population of most countries. Currently, our population of people above the age of 60 is catching up with the population of Mexico (130 million) or Russia (143 million). By 2050, our population of elderly will be close to the total population of the US (326 million).

These consumers will demand a new way of living. They would need a support structure around them to enable them to be productive and creative. In essence, the lifestyle of seniors needs to be reimagined.

Senior living communities are poised for growth because they serve seniors by offering a lifestyle rich in social, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. Ageing is inevitable but senior living communities support seniors to be in better health and be more productive. This allows seniors to age much better. These communities also offer freedom from chores such as cooking or cleaning.

Senior-friendly design such as green spaces, transition-free areas and elevators that stay open longer, are just some of the features that allow seniors to live a better quality of life. They have amenities adapted for the lifestyle of seniors such as health care clinics within the community, large clubs with sports, recreation facilities and support staff that are trained to serve seniors. These communities are growing because its residents are seeking a community of like-minded people who support each other.

According to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the census updates and other secondary research indicate that senior housing demand from urban and rural sector is about three lakh units. Current supply of senior housing is about 20,000 units only. Out of this, only 10,000 units are operational. At present, the industry is estimated at Rs 9,180 crore. With the population of seniors poised to grow to 300 million, there is a huge mismatch in supply and demand.

To address the massive gap in supply, in the near future, senior living solutions will be integrated into the most mixed-use developments and townships. Communities will be redesigned to cater to seniors. This will accelerate the scale of the category.

Development of the sector will need a holistic approach addressing the key needs of seniors. The opportunity for India in developing the senior living sector is not only to serve the needs of this large segment of the population but also to evaluate how the country can benefit from the demographic dividend that this segment will introduce to our economy.

(This writer is CRO, Columbia Pacific Communities)

Updated Date: Jul 15, 2019 16:33:28 IST