As we age, the rising demand for ‘senior care’ will make supply of living spaces and services expand
Senior care demands many special amenities which makes it different from developing any regular property
Demand for senior care services is seeing a sharp rise because elderly population in the world is the fastest growing segment with people above 60 years of age making for 11.5% of the total world population. Thirty years from now, the elderly population in India is expected to triple to 300 million from 104 million in 2011, according to a report, titled Senior Care Industry Report India 2018, by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Ignox Labs, a boutique growth accelerator firm.
Estimates from latest census updates and secondary research show there is a demand for 240,000 houses from urban areas and 51,500 houses from the rural sector for senior housing in India. Despite the policymaker’s efforts and contribution by private institutions to various senior care formats, there is significant room for development and new ideas, said the report.
In the last two decades, there have been many landmark policies introduced by government institutions to support the senior population. Some of these policies include Integrated Programme for Older Persons in 1992, National Policy on Older persons in 1999, Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens 2007, and National Programme of Health Care for Elderly in 2011. In spite of all these policies, there still remain gaps and potential for improvement. “The government has not identified the senior living sector as a priority one – if it did, it would certainly attract more players because funding would become easier,” said Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants.
Currently, there are 37 firms in the senior living spaces category across all formats and economic segments that include independent living communities, assisted living communities, senior day care facility, and memory care facilities which provide enhanced care and assistance to senior citizens with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are a total of 20,000 units of which only 10,722 are currently operational and the remaining are either under construction or in the planning stage.
“The first reason that comes to mind is the overall slowdown in the real estate market. Developers are putting a slow brake on any kind of residential development as there is massive development funding issues in the market right now. There is already a massive pileup of unsold inventory, caused partly by a supply and demand mismatch as well as unattractive pricing,” said Puri. “In the current scenario, the only segment of housing that is getting any significant encouragement at the policy level is low-budget housing – and even here, there are serious fund-flow issues. Senior living obviously doesn’t come anywhere close to qualifying in that segment.”
Top concerns of seniors
Senior care demands many special amenities and facilities which makes it very different from developing any regular real estate property. Among various issues, the report has identified the top five things that concern most elderly people in India. One, physical ageing and drop in health amid rising cost of healthcare is the biggest concern. Two, lack of safety and security which is increasing the potential for abuse of senior citizens. Three, the increasingly complex ecosystems, especially in metro and developing cities is causing problems in day to day living. Four, inadequate number of senior-friendly communities is making the elderly in the country feel neglected and isolated. “While any developer knows how to build buildings, providing the specific services that senior living calls for are a different ball game altogether. This is not a ‘build-sell-forget’ proposition. It involves roping in the right kinds of health care partners and keeping them engaged in the project throughout its life-cycle,” said Puri. Five, financial stability and sustainability amid high inflation is another concern that bothers most senior individuals in the country today.
The opportunity for builders is to solve some of these issues through the projects they create.