Photo courtesy Vlad Sargu on Unsplash
The homes for senior citizens living are multi-unit residential complexes spread out over a large area having living units with amenities like medical and recreational facilities, landscaped grounds, and community halls. These are becoming a choice for many senior citizens who want to spend the rest of their lives with people of their age group, with a peaceful environment, and freedom to do the things they are interested in. The homes for senior living have their own advantages.
A few decades back senior citizens used to live in a joint family and there was the support of other family members where they used to be cared for. With the younger members in the family moving to metros and foreign countries the elders now have the support of only the helpers for their medical or other needs. The concept of senior living is slowly emerging in India to fill this gap.
The elderly population in India is expected to be 173 million by 2026 and grow to 320 million by 2050. The senior living homes are becoming a choice for many senior citizens whose children are working outside India or in other cities and the NRIs who are used to these facilities outside India and return to their country and want to spend high-quality life with likeminded people of their age group in the available world-class amenities.
Senior living housing is generally for people above the age of 55 with 15 projects across the country in India and 20 new projects in different stages being built. The housing projects are being built by the Mantri group, Ashiana housing, Paranjape group, Max group, and Tata housing with the houses available in Bengaluru, NCR, Pune, Dehradun, Chennai, and Lavasa. The projects are mostly in the suburbs to keep the costs down. Rooms of all types 1BHK, 2BHK, 3HK as well as studio apartments and villas are available. The size varies from 500 sq. ft to 2500 sq. ft and the price varies from 25 lakh to 1.25 crore depending on the size. The projects are in the affordable segment taking into consideration that the senior citizens have no sources of regular income. With the emergence of the financial independence of seniors, there has been a growth in luxury and high-end projects.
The financial models for these projects offered are-
The units are offered in these projects on a per sq. ft rate and the services are offered on a monthly payment basis. The entire complex is professionally managed.
A deposit amount is collected which is generally 60-70% of the value of the unit, depending on its size. The charges on the food, water, and electricity are levied at the actuals. On account of the death of the senior person, the deposit charges are paid back to the successor after deduction of administrative charges.
In this model, a small deposit is charged from the customer that includes the monthly rent, water, and electricity charges. Other facilities like food, healthcare, and security are charged on actuals.
Food accounts for a larger share of the monthly payments standing at 25-30%, housekeeping at 20%, healthcare at 20-25%, social engagement at 10%, and the remaining on other miscellaneous services.
The traditional age-old homes are many times understaffed with a lack of facilities and are considered place of abandonment while the senior living homes are well equipped with the best facilities. The differences between the two are –
Senior Living vs. Old age homes- Advantages and Disadvantages
The facilities in an old age home are bare minimum with a room for sleeping, maybe shared with other seniors, a common dining hall, common bathrooms, and a lounge for visitors.
The senior living has independent living units with bedrooms for self and the guests, a living room, a kitchen, and a dining room. You can stay anywhere in the unit independently. There are facilities like anti-skid floors, grab rails in bathrooms, night switches in bedrooms, and an emergency response system. The other facilities include indoor and outdoor games, lawns, restaurants, cafeterias, swimming pools, and supermarkets.
2) Medical Care-
In many of the old age homes, the medical facility is below par. Some of them may have trained medical staff and they provide treatment to the residents at a nearby hospital in case of an emergency
The medical facility in senior living is excellent and a doctor is present on the premises the complete day with the provision of immediate medical attention in case of emergency. They have tie-ups with leading hospitals where the residents can go for check-ups and treatment. There are additional services like feeding, bathing, and physiotherapy for persons who have mobility issues.
The food facility in old age homes is in a mess style, like the military or the police forces. There are no facilities to cook meals for the people if they wish.
In senior living, the menu is customized to suit the individuals with proper dietary monitoring. The nutrition, as well as hygiene, is taken care of. The daily meals consist of fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, and nuts. You can cook food in your kitchen and if you want to take a break you can have meals in the community halls.
The senior living homes cater to a varied means of recreation for the residents. There are the entertainment halls, library, clubhouses, games rooms, swimming pools, gyms, and guest rooms for the visiting guests. The other facilities offered are yoga, Satsang, and meditation where you mix with a community of like-minded friends.
The old age homes do not have so many facilities to keep the residents engaged apart from the television viewing hall.
5) Safety and Security-
The old age homes, as well as senior living homes, are safe for the occupants. There is good monitoring by the safety staff in order to provide assistance in case of an emergency. Senior homes have CCTV cameras and round-the-clock surveillance. There is a provision for an emergency response system round the clock so you don’t have to worry about safety and health.
6) Choice of Independence-
In the senior living individuals live in 1BHK, 2 BHK, and 3 BHK homes and can make their daily routine and form a lifestyle of their choice.
There are some compulsions imposed in old age homes where a person can meet their friends only during fixed hours and can’t keep their children and grandchildren. In senior living, there are no such compulsions and a person can host their children, grandchildren, and friends as they do in their own home.
7) Polishing of skills-
The senior citizens devote their entire life looking after their children and in the process forget to take care of their skills and hobbies. There are platforms in senior living spaces where these people can rediscover their skills and hobbies. Many people are interested in singing, learning new forms of dance, or exploring new hobbies like painting. The seniors here get a chance to improve their skills.
8) Improvement in health-
With the various activities carried out at senior living places, the seniors are kept engaged with
a stimulating lifestyle. In many cases, it leads to an improvement in health with the resulting decrease in dependence on medicines.
There are some factors that you must keep in mind before selecting a senior living space-
The senior living spaces are located in the suburbs and outskirts of most the cities where there is less noise and pollution. It is important to check if the location is well connected and easy to reach in case of any emergency.
It is always better for the seniors to stay in places having mild weather. Avoid places with extreme weather. If it is a very cold place seniors will have reduced mobility and when it is very cold outside they have chronic pains like arthritis. This results in taking more medication. In cold weather, they feel sluggish and want to sleep more.
If the place is very hot there are other problems like muscle cramps, rapid heart rate, and disorientation and confusion. Places like Bangalore, Mysore, Dehradun, and Pune are good places that have mild weather throughout the year.
There are many things to check about the facilities. There should be a supply of electricity and water for the whole day without many cuts and hygiene maintenance should be good in the place. The recreation facilities should be good with a good security arrangement. There should be facilities for regular checkups, ambulance service, and tie-ups with nearby hospitals.
The reputation of the builder-
This is one of the important factors when considering a purchase in senior living. Check for similar projects of the same developer and enquire about the nature of promises made and facilities provided. Many developers try to rebrand their projects that are not selling into senior living apartments. The RERA registration certificate of the property should be checked and the apartments can be sold only after registration. In the senior homes instead of checking for the luxury aspects check whether all the essential facilities required for the senior citizens are present.
If the projects are good every day can be fulfilling for the senior citizens. They can start the day with a morning walk with their group of friends, and do yoga and meditation. This can be followed up by a healthy breakfast. The morning can be spent in the library or playing a game of carom. Then it is time for lunch in the cafeteria and a person can go for an afternoon siesta. In the evening the person can go to the garden, play tennis or even dip in the pool. The day ends well in the company of friends over the dinner.
With the progression of age, people want to lead a stress-free and simple life. There are many retirees who are opting for senior homes in less polluted areas that offer all the comforts of a home along with security and companionship of people of their age group. A good infrastructure, trained staff, and great amenities make up a good project and many developers are coming up with a concept of senior citizen homes. Before making a final decision visit all the available options, study the pros and cons, and then arrive at a decision.