The Tribune

Senior Living in India

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India’s aging population is living longer and better courtesy a slew of better health, technology residential and activity options.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Ignox Consulting’s report titled ‘CII – Senior Care Industry Report India 2018: Igniting potential in senior care services’ that was released in May 2018 makes some interesting revelations of the size of the senior citizen population in India. “In India, 30 years from now, the elderly population is expected to triple from 104 million in 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18% of the total population in 2050. While the current population of elderly in India (134m in 2020) is fast reaching the current size of population of Mexico (130m) or Russia (143m), the 2050 population of elderly will be close to the population of the United States (326m – 2018) today.”

Second Innings

However while the numbers may seem mind boggling, there has been a rather positive undercurrent as far as senior citizens are concerned courtesy both better life expectancy as well as an increase in the standard of living. Interestingly there are a plethora of products and services that cater specifically to the needs of senior citizens that have largely evolved from personal experiences that is helping them lead better and more meaningful lives. Likewise the concept of retirement homes and homes designed for seniors citizens are becoming common place but more with a bent towards a co-living community. Yogesh Mehra who is working towards the concept in Maharashtra says, “I am of a very strong opinion that the biggest mistake we make is to call senior living as ‘senior living’ or a ‘old age home’ that is a complete negative way of branding this facility as makes the user feel that he or she is now on their final journey of life and it is depressing and makes their children feel guilty. We must have some happier and more positive terminology for this kind of facility. Society is evolving and the nuclear family system makes it very difficult for youngsters to be around their parents when they are ageing. As much as it is heart breaking, it is the truth and we have to face it. Hence, today, more than ever, there is a great opportunity and need for senior living. We must embrace and encourage it as a societal progress on the whole. More importantly, it is through co living that is specially designed for seniors that they actually do meet likeminded folks who are at the same stage of life, thereby creating a sense of togetherness and community.”

Age No Barrier                        

Take the case of Madhu Singh, a 62 year old entrepreneur who started to train on Cross fit at an age when people contemplate retirement. “When I was nearing my mid-fifties, like most people of that age I started getting niggling pains in neck and back joints. Our family doctor advised me to exercise and to accept pain as part and parcel of growing old. I did follow his advice regarding exercise but did not accept that part about pain being part and parcel of my life. Instead I started exercising for longer periods and this time with a purpose in mind. Around this time, I came across a person who was doing cross fit and his fitness level was very good given the age, upon inquiring I learnt he was doing Cross Fit. Fortunately a cross fit box was opening in my neighborhood and against the advice of my well-wishers I joined the box. My first three months were very challenging but with time my joints started feeling better and stronger, soon I started competing with girls half my age. I started feeling very strong and confident and in fact in a year’s time it reversed all the signs of aging.” Naturally she says it is important that senior citizens change the way they perceive their age and instead empower their growing age with the right diet, outlook and exercise. “Set small fitness goals for yourself. It is not only you but entire universe that is aging at the same pace so embrace it. Do not concentrate only on aches and pains; rather concentrate on the joy you will receive after a grueling session of exercise.” Likewise for Brigadier Hari Pant, 78 and his wife Kumkum Pant, 72, life has literally been a roll thanks to their zest for life. After having served in the army for 33 years, Pant retired and settled in Bimtal in Uttarkand. Since he always had an interest in homeopathy, Ayurveda and naturopathy, he did a couple of courses at Schumacher College in Dartington, UK when he was 65 while visiting his daughter. “Seize the moment is what I believe in and my mantra in life is to work hard while doing good to others. Soon I went to the USA to do a course in agriculture and then came back to India and started the Himalayan Farm Project. At this age both my wife and I do not take any medication and I also advice people on how one can live life without medication.”

Tech Advantage

Retirement Homes are now being modelled with a luxury base and facilities include smart home designs, intelligent security systems, landscaped gardens, club house, gymnasium, health care facilities, golf carts all of which are aimed to ensure that senior citizens can retire in style. Anuj Puri, Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants says, “residential real estate comes at various levels of comfort, conveniences and location attributes. Today, luxury is largely defined on these parameters. The more facilities a project has that promote a better lifestyle, and the better the location is either in terms of connectivity or lower levels of urban clutter and chaos, the higher the luxury quotient becomes. Size is another factor commonly attributed to luxury. While larger homes do not necessarily translate into better ambience in senior living, the other factors do apply. Senior living is all about comfortable and even vibrant living in one’s retirement years. Certainly, such elements can and do come at varying levels in senior living today. Advanced facilities and accompanying facility management, along with more green open spaces, can be considered luxurious in a senior living setting. The experience in senior living can range from basic to luxurious. However, the specific needs of the elderly must be kept in mind while translating luxury to senior living, in contrast to other kinds of housing.”  Changing times have also meant that technological advances are Internet technology is working well for senior citizens. 73 year old Mahesh Kumar who lives on New Delhi says, “after my open heart surgery nearly a decade back, I under took a vast change in my lifestyle and eating habits and I also made a conscious effort to educate myself technologically to be able to do things like bank work on Net. I have downloaded UBER and a Walking app – which helps me to book a car and I do not have to worry about driving and parking. I even have a walking app that helps me to keep track of my total number of steps. I have learnt net banking that helps me in market trading/ booking FD’s and keeping track of my investment. I have also linked my utility bills with my bank account so this kind of service is very helpful for senior citizens.” From embracing technology to making choices that matter, senior citizens are certainly showing the right way to live and proving that George Bernard Shaw was perfectly right when he said, “you don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

This story first appeared in The Tribune dated 9th June 2019 here:

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