The Future of Independent Living in India
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Times have changed conspicuously, especially for the senior population in India. There has been an evolution of sorts. Earlier, post-retirement, it was a norm for parents to live with their children, particularly in India. But in the world of today, our parents and other senior citizens want to choose the time of retirement and also their homes. They now seem keen to lead independent lives, away from the madness prevalent in the cities.
It is a win-win situation for both parents and children as both parties lead stress-free lives. The younger generation can now follow their dream to acquire a comfortable lifestyle and to live independently, without compromising with their passion or ambition. Our seniors, too, are content with this transition as they can also lead lives that are unrestrained and yet dignified; they crave to be self –reliant.
The inception of retirement homes:
The above trend organically introduced the concept of 'retirement homes' to the world. Retirement homes breathed their first, primarily in the southern parts of India, where the IT sector was the most widespread; hence the number of emigrants.
This kind of living gave the elderly a sense of familiarity as they provided them with a lifestyle similar to the one they had lived thus far, complemented with a tranquil and peaceful living space. Well, times have changed for these ‘homes’, too, and they now flaunt an air of sophistication and are referred to as ‘independent living’ spaces. These, though born in the West, are gradually gaining popularity in our country, too.
The logic behind this:
The number of senior citizens in India is expected to grow to approximately 173 million by 2026, as per a report released by the United Nations Population Fund and Help Age India. Consequently, if we could look into the future, independent living abodes would eventually become indispensable. There is a massive scope for their expansion.
In the past, independent living was synonymous with old age homes, which were absolutely basic in nature and were generally charitable institutions. Now, thankfully, these homes have undergone a 360 degrees makeover and are well equipped to meet the requirements of our seniors. Besides, now the elderly tend to save up for their future and have the requisite amounts of money to lead happy and comfortable lives, post-retirement. This is great news for developers who can focus on this area and cater to their needs, adding to the popularity of this concept; it is an ideal situation.
A few suggestions with regard to the location:
The elderly generally prefer quieter places, away from the humdrum of the big cities but yet close to city life, picturesque settings high on their aesthetic value. Consequently, the places that have thus far best suited this requirement are the likes of Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Pune, Goa, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Coimbatore and so forth. Hence the developers of these 'senior living' projects have focused on these areas to enhance the marketing quotient.
Points to ponder:
These independent living spaces need to be designed such that they provide the highest level of safety and comfort for our elderly. The key points that need to be prioritized are as follows:
Medical assistance: Medical emergencies are unpredictable. Hence, there needs to be a round-the-clock emergency support system for the residents, with doctors, nurses, ambulance service, proximity to a multi-speciality hospital and appropriate medication for contingencies.
Interiors that are age appropriate: For e.g. adequate lighting, anti-skid floors, emergency panic buttons in rooms, bathrooms equipped with grab-bars and so on.
Safe atmosphere: It is imperative that these homes are equipped with CCTV cameras and security guards are available round the clock.
Well equipped: Even the elderly need to have an active lifestyle. Thus, these independent living homes need to have adequate indoor and outdoor activities, swimming pools, yoga centres, fitness hubs and much more.
24/7 assistance: This can be related to housekeeping or any mundane requirement for seamless and comfortable living.
The future is promising:
Every area of work is inundated with its own challenges. Independent living in India has its own set of hurdles to overcome, for instance, the finances involved and the availability of a skilled and qualified workforce, that can be designated to these projects. Yet, the future looks brilliant for this segment in India, with a distinct upswing already in existence. Elderly care will soon become the need-of-the-hour.
In a nutshell... independent living is here to stay in India.