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Retiring to a comfortable lifestyle: Senior living communities

Is retirement home a fancier version of an old age home?

The decision was sudden. The senior Venkateshwarans wanted to move out of Goa, where they lived with their son, to hometown Coimbatore. The son was taken aback and wondered if he had not cared enough for his parents. He was worried. The seniors were also not so sure how to go about setting up home at this stage in life, but, they would manage. What prompted them to take this decision? The couple had saved wisely for post retirement and planned to live life their way, doing all they had wanted to, being with like-minded people, without being dependent on any one. Does all this sound familiar?

Here is the good news! A new concept of senior living communities has arrived in many cities in the country, giving you different options of housing. Though still nascent, it is nevertheless, showing great promise.

What are senior living communities?

Broadly, we are speaking of a new way of living for seniors, where comfort, safety, security and minimum dependence on others are some of the key features. These are customised for elders and are user friendly. So typically, retirement homes would have features like 24/7 emergency support, panic switches, wheelchair friendly premises and grab rails, to name a few. There is also an emphasis on the social well-being of the seniors, with regular group activities and events and celebrations organised to make people feel at home. Senior living communities or retirement communities, are open to seniors only, usually above the age of 55.

The above features are indicative and may vary with the type of senior living accommodation. At present, the choices available in the market for senior living include independent apartments, independent retirement homes, assistive care homes and nursing care homes. All About Seniors has compiled some details on the subject to help you make a more informed decision.

“Antara Senior Living aims to provide a hassle-free, stress-free living. The community has 50,000 sq ft clubhouse which has dining spaces, a bar, library, theatre, indoor games room, indoor heated pool, spa, gym, and yoga pavilion. The community has anti-skid flooring, cove lighting and 1000 standard written procedures elaborating emergency evacuation processes or even how a hot cup of coffee will remain steaming hot when it reaches you.”- Kenneth Sannoo, Marketing and Sales head, Antara Senior Living.

Independent apartments

Unlike regular apartments where seniors have to adjust to what is available, here the apartments are designed with the convenience of the seniors in mind. These apartments are a part of a society which comprises of senior citizens, so like-minded company should not be a problem. The society also organises social activities, though on a limited scale. Since these apartments don’t offer any additional support, they are good for seniors who are healthy, physically fit and would like to/are able to lead completely independent lives.

Independent retirement communities

These communities offer all the advantages of an apartment system and more. They build upon those facilities, to include specialised services like group travels and weekly recreational activities, among others. Ranging from 1-BHK homes to duplexes, there is good choice of housing in this option. Certainly a good option for those looking for a variety of activities to keep themselves engaged.

Assistive care homes

Most facilities remaining similar to those above, the distinguishing feature in an assistive care home is the facility of a full time caretaker for the residents. Older adults, who maybe suffering from minor health disorders and need help with routine chores, could explore this option.

Nursing care homes

The concept of nursing and palliative care homes is also taking shape in India. This option is for the people who are suffering from serious illnesses. Presently, very few builders are offering this facility, but once demand picks up this segment should see a gradual expansion soon.

Both independent apartment system and retirement communities do not offer a caretaker. Though there are hospital tie-ups, in-house ambulances, first aid support and emergency procedures in both.

Is retirement home a fancier version of an old age home?

The concept of retirement home and old age home may seem overlapping at first. But there are features that set them apart. Old age homes are mostly charitable in nature. The occupants may have to pay a nominal monthly rent, but the major source of funding is through donations. On the other hand, retirement homes is a business model which has been a way of life for seniors in the West . Retirement homes can be purchased or leased. Seniors can also occupy the property on rental basis. The costs that need to be incurred on retirement home living are not nominal.

Most old age homes come with basic amenities like a room, a common dining area and some basic recreational facilities. However, retirement homes provide a comfortable lifestyle with a plethora of services and activities, giving greater freedom and choice of lifestyle. The Venkateshwarans, who moved to Serene Properties, a creation of Covai Properties in Coimbatore, are very happy with their decision. “This place is nothing less than a 5-star hotel. We are a society of cheerful and warm people. Everything is taken care of…from arranging railway bookings to regular health check-ups,” Mr Venkateshwaran said.

Is the Indian market ready for retirement homes?

There has been a big change in the way urban India lives. There is a social transformation taking place in different segments. Gone are the days when seniors resigned themselves to a boring, post-retirement life. Instead, today they want to live it up and make the most of their golden phase. Increased longevity, better medical facilities, handsome retirement benefits, loneliness following migration of children to faraway lands, back-to-roots emotions are some of the reasons for the change in attitude towards life. This change has, in turn, created a demand for such senior living community properties.

Ms.Shantha Swaminathan has been living in a senior living community for a long time now and is quite an ‘expert’ on the subject. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and guiding others. She believes that it will soon became a way of life for seniors.

“Some people have shown confidence in the senior living property. The property is already 50% sold out. There is enough positivity for us to feel happy and believe that the concept is well accepted by the people,” says Mr Kenneth Sannoo, of Antara Senior Living.

The concept of retirement homes was first introduced in South India and Bangalore alone had seven such projects running by 2013. The initial phase saw expansion in Kochi, Chennai, Pune and Coimbatore. Recently, the projects have expanded to the northern parts of the country in Jaipur, Dehradun, Bhiwadi and Delhi-NCR.

“The response to our upcoming property in Gurgaon has been very welcoming. We decided to expand in this sector seeing the gap in demand and supply of senior living. The seniors today are socially independent and have social and security needs that need to be taken care of. They recognize the need for such kind of property,” said Mr Anubhav Jain, the Director of Silver Glades, a real estate company which has been in the market since two decades.

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