Only 10k Units For Seniors; SC Says States Are Not Concerned About The Aged
While the youth of the country is an economic migrant, it is their dependents who are now looking for settlement options that are apt for their age and also, let them lead an independent life. This trend is largely seen in the southern cities of the country.
According to the Census 2011, there was a 98 per cent increase in migrant population in Tamil Nadu and 77 per cent increase in Kerala’s population of migrants. Data also suggest that every third person in the north of India is headed south sooner or later in their life. In 2014, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism in a media report said, “In the past, most immigrants have been from Punjab. But we realise Canada can benefit from the south Indian community, considering their high levels of education.” As of 2013, two million India-born immigrants lived in the United States. On the other hand, figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest that the number of Indians who moved to Australia grew by six per cent in the year 2016.
How is it impacting senior living?
More and more senior citizens in India are all living by themselves. They may have been working and are financially independent, being on their own, most seniors prefer moving to comfortable residences where services are readily available to them. According to a study by PHD Chambers of Commerce, the market size of senior housing could jump six-fold to $7.7 billion by 2030. Such is the opportunity for this segment going ahead. As of now, India has only 10,000 units to serve this kind of populace.
Senior living is still an unexplored territory with the only handful of developers focusing on this segment. And many see senior housing as ‘old age homes’, a concept that isn’t taken well in India. Vikash Saxena, broker, Varsity says, “Indians – both the parent and the child generations have a skeptic outlook when it comes to senior living. The society goes on to ingrain the understanding that children who neglect their parents dump them in seniorhomes or old age homes and therefore, most people are averse to this thought.” However, the trend is changing but it will take a while before it is accepted and is equally popular. Another broker, Maithili Thyagarajan says, “In south India, senior living is branching into various types, there is luxury senior living where maintenance costs might be high but the residents are completely taken care of. Senior living is a more healthy and enjoyable lifestyle for them given that most of them are well-travelled and financially independent. It is the best to ensure an active post-retirement stage.”
Senior living in south India is an emerging trend. Financially well-placed families are enquiring about the offerings. On the condition of anonymity, a Gagan Vihar resident, an elderly lady chose to move into one of the senior living options in Kanjirapally in Kerala. She had sold her three-storeyed house in Ghaziabad for Rs 9 crore and for a monthly charge of Rs 30,000, she gets to enjoy the comforts of a home in a remote place. But it works for her given she is a native of Kerala.
Most senior homes are also providing with a caregiver. The responsibility of a caregiver involves running errands for the elderly such pay their bills, assist in depositing money, post couriers, pay bills or file taxes, etc. With such comforts, 27 million senior citizens, who need specialised care today, could feel at home all the time if the cost were not a hindrance.
There are homes for those who are looking at independent living, assisted living, those who need intensive nursing care or facilities that are flexible to suit your age and lifestyle. Tannu Basu, consultant at Taksh Homes says, “Had it not been so expensive, retirement homes would have been more appealing.”
The Maintenance And Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Bill 2007 provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens but the country is yet to see any major progressive legislation in areas of senior living standards, service standards, financial products, legal support etc. You can read it here.
Supreme Court’s intervention
While private players have jumped into the senior living territory, the government and authorities have also turned their attention to the old and aged of the country. Based on a plea filed by former union minister and senior advocate, Ashwini Kumar, that appealed for an old age home in every district of India, the SC sought a reply from all the states and union territories last September however, the apex court received no answer.
Expressing concern and disappointment, the SC bench- Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta and said on January 30 that it was ‘quite obvious’ that the authorities were not concerned about the aged. Defaulters include Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and UTs of Daman and Diu, Lakshdeep, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana. These states have been permitted a ‘last opportunity’ to file affidavits within the next three weeks.
Suggestions and replies that have already come in from 23 states would be dealt issue wise and would be placed on record. Also, provisions established by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) with respect to legal services to senior citizens would be implemented at the earliest and modifications if any could be included.
The plight of the aged in India, especially the ones who cannot turn to private developers is pitiable. There are old age pensions guaranteed by state governments but it varies and is not in tandem with the growing expenses and inflation either. For example, the Centre provides Rs 200 as old-age pension to those eligible. Undoubtedly, this is next to negligible although the amount varies from state to state. In 2015-16 while the budget for this was cleared at Rs 25 crore, only Rs 10.45 crore was utilised- glaring gap at even the bare minimum that has to be provided being grossly neglected. Therefore, old age homes with basic facilities for care in accordance with section 19 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 is not too much to ask.
With inputs from Housing News