SHASHANK PARANJAPE, Managing Director, Paranjape Schemes (Construction) Ltd, writes on the concept of senior living as an emerging and challenging housing segment.
Indian real estate is undergoing a major transformation with new property segments being added to its repertoire. Senior citizens´ living is a new emerging housing segment that holds great promise, but at the same time is a challenging one for developers to target and market in a traditional Indian environment.
Need for senior homes
There is a lot of misconception in the minds of people about senior living. Many believe it is an old-age home for parents, which is not the case. Senior living in India is a new segment of housing that is developed keeping in mind the age of residents. It is like any housing project with all the amenities for comfortable living, but customised for the convenience of its residents.
This segment has not really grown in India because of our traditional joint family system. But with the western idea of living rapidly gaining ground, especially in our metro cities, the concept of a nuclear family is quickly replacing the joint family system. Younger generations are migrating to other cities or countries for job opportunities, and their parents are financially and physically independent. This has resulted in the need for specially designed housing projects for such parents or senior citizens who, despite their age, want to live their retirement life independently.
Senior living housing is a place where like-minded senior citizens can live together in the same project sharing their lifelong experiences with fellow residents. Senior citizens´ housing enclaves, for example, our ´Athashri´ project, are gated communities with all facilities catering to the housing, personal and medical needs of senior citizens. The seniors living here are retired, but quite active socially and can also travel to the city hub or marketplace, whenever required, with the help of shuttle bus service provided to them.
Generally, senior living homes are built on outskirts of large cities away from the maddening crowd yet easily accessible from the main city hub. The locations of such projects are usually quiet and pleasant to give peace of mind to residents and large enough to house amenities that are senior-friendly. Cities such as Pune, Bengaluru, Vadodara, Coimbatore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, NCR-Delhi, etc, are preferred, and seeing a rapid growth of such projects because these cities are safe in terms of law and order. They have good medical infrastructure and have a populace of seniors with migrating children.
Our Athashri projects have all services like guest rooms, room service, housekeeping, canteen with nice cafeterias, domestic help, club house with swimming pool and gymnasium. The whole premise is designed to be wheelchair-friendly. Lots of recreational areas like a small hall, amphitheatre, landscaped gardens, library and TV room are part of these projects. Certain necessities like an internet room, well-equipped clinic and sometimes a small shop for daily conveniences are provided here. Internal specifications within the apartments are also meticulously designed. Specially, low platforms in kitchen for wheelchair-bound residents, grab bars in toilets, emergency or panic buttons and anti-skid flooring are provided to make them senior-friendly. Apart from these, services like banking, bill payments, guidance on investments and legal matters and travel arrangements are provided to residents at their doorstep.
Senior living being a niche housing segment, is constructed keeping in mind the requirement of its residents. Therefore, before execution of such projects, a comprehensive research is undertaken in order to understand the needs and necessities of its residents, which help in the planning and final execution of the project. For the final finish of the project, ramps are provided for easy movement of the wheel-bound and materials like tiles and paint are also customised for the benefit of the end-user; in this case senior citizens who reside here. The construction of such projects come with its own challenges, which result in a marginal increase in cost, to the home buyer.
There is further customisation for the benefit of senior citizens such as shuttle bus service, doctor on call, 24 x 7 ambulance service, tie-ups with good hospitals for emergencies, grab railing to hold in the building corridors, and resident manager available 24 x 7.
Indeed, today, there is more awareness about senior living in our country, as the main challenge is removing the stigma attached to it. After working hard all their lives and fulfilling their responsibilities towards their family, senior living enables elders to finally relax, and enjoy with their peers, all the small things they always wanted to do.
About the author: Shashank Purushottam Paranjape is Managing Director of Paranjape Schemes (Construction) Ltd (PSCL). The group has been instrumental in bringing a novel concept like Athashri, a specially designed senior citizen complex, and brainchild of Paranjape. PSCL has to its credit 1,500 senior citizen families residing in five Athashri´s in Pune.
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