The future is nowMetros along with tier-II cities will witness a healthy growth of senior living projects in the coming years

The future is nowMetros along with tier-II cities will witness a healthy growth of senior living projects in the coming years

The future is nowMetros along with tier-II cities will witness a healthy growth of senior living projects in the coming years, says Ankur Gupta

The average age of humans has grown in recent decades. The success of the present-day healthcare system and world-class healthcare facilities have privileged us with some extra years.

As a result, the population of seniors has been steadily growing. India’s elderly population (aged 60 and above) is projected to touch 194 million in 2031 from 138 million in 2021, a 41% increase over a decade, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO)’s Elderly in India 2021 report.

It would mean that in addition to the youth, the country should be looking at successful housing formats for the ageing population it holds for now and will hold in the future. Senior living has been a straight-jacketed housing solution for the segment. As already, senior living is a booming industry. It is not only about the care homes or retirement communities but also about the amenities and care they offer to seniors. As more and more people move towards retirement age, it will be essential to create new spaces that cater to their health needs.

But there is more to the story. Some two decades back, it was either a charitable trust or the government, which ran senior living homes. But that probably was the beginning of the story. Two decades down, a new chapter is just beginning to unfold.

Growth potential

Increasing longevity of the segment and the need to create and build a resilient society, where the old is not dependent on their family members for living a great retirement life have made the growth possible.

There has also been a cultural shift over the years. There are more financially independent seniors we have than ever. The projects are also meant for those seniors who do not live with their children. In such a case, living in a senior living project will give an assurance to the family that their seniors are in safe company.

The recent lockdowns have, in fact, also propelled the thought that seniors need better healthcare and better amenities where they live. And development companies are investing in projects basis the demand from this segment.

The truth is: Despite the demand and requirement, there are only a handful of such residential projects across the country. Ashiana Housing is one of the pioneers of senior living projects in the country, which is developing projects across four cities.

But how would this growth span out? Metros and tier 2cities will take the lead. Metros are already witnessing a surge in such projects. However, in the longer run, suburbs and tier-II cities will also see healthy supply.

Some of the tier-II cities include Bhiwadi, Coimbatore, Puducherry, Vadodara, Bhopal, Jaipur, Mysuru, Dehradun and Kasauli among others. Metros where we have seen the supply are Chennai, Pune (Lavasa) and Bengaluru.

According to industry estimates, there are a total 55 senior projects in the country from 12 players. This is still a small number for a country of our size. It is expected that over a period of the next four to five years, the number of projects will increase multifold. There are reasons behind this: Attractive financing options available, availability of land at affordable rates and plenty of space to build sprawling complexes have made these cities more attractive. And seniors love these open spaces.

Low population densities

Although growth rates vary by region, there is a growing trend that a majority of seniors would prefer living in cities with low population densities. The trend of seniors moving into cities with low population densities is also contributing to this growth. It creates opportunities for developers to create new projects in these markets, where there is less competition and lower costs.

And the current demographic shifts are leading to a need for more assisted living facilities and memory care providers. An assisted living society has a number of services are weaved around the health and wellness of the residents. The demand for such senior living communities has never been higher.

How will future senior living housing be different? Customer experience and servicing will matter.

Perfect customisation

Every senior living community offers something different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. To be competitive, senior care facilities must offer amenities that are vital to their target market. It might include things like fitness centres, pools, or outdoor activities.

Much evolved markets like those in California, the U.S. focus on offering a warm climate and providing amenities like yoga classes and outside dining. A senior living community in New York might focus more on entertainment with an art studio and movie theatre on site. With more senior living communities being built across cities, there will be plenty of growth opportunities that will accompany.

The current momentum will likely continue as baby boomers age and retire over the next few years. The demand for senior living housing will continue to rise. And pioneers like us will scale up.

The types of services and amenities on offer in these projects will continue to evolve as the industry will grow. The country will simultaneously need experts and skilled planners to develop such projects of scale. Industry is already preparing for next phase of development. Happier times ahead.