Prema and Mukundan Menon are both in their 60s and recently retired from their respective jobs. Prema was the principal of a school and Mukundan was a senior bank employee. They had a comfortable life until it wasn’t any more. Both their sons have settled down in Europe, and now Prema and Mukundan have a three-bedroom house to manage on their own. Initially, they relished the quiet and the long days that stretched before them. But now with Prema’s spondylitis and Mukundan struggling with the onset of arthritis, it’s getting tiresome. They have a domestic help, but she is predictably unreliable. Plus, being an old house, they faced electrical and plumbing issues from time to time, which were getting challenging to resolve.
This is the situation that most senior citizens in India are faced with today. With India’s elderly population growing at a rapid rate, senior living homes are becoming more in demand.
According to a 2018 report from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), senior citizens will make up 18% of the population by 2050.
Given the significant improvement in life expectancy rates as well, the concept of senior living homes is more widely embraced now as the elderly seek out a comfortable and hassle-free life. These specially built homes, meant for citizens over 55 years of age, also allow them to form a community of like-minded people keeping them mentally and physically active and engaged.
Prema and Mukundan had never considered living anywhere apart from their own home, and they were sceptical of retirement homes. The concept of an ‘old age home’ has always been frowned upon as a place where heartless children left their parents. Although their sons had been insisting that they live with them, Prema and Mukundan desisted, like so many of their peers, because they didn’t want to burden their children. The more they read, the more drawn they became to assisted living or senior living homes.
To know the real cost of living in these special homes, we have to first understand the different types of retirement homes and the facilities they offer.
If you are over 55, have no significant health or mobility issues, and are active, then senior living is what you would need. This comprises homes that accommodate people seeking to live a life independent of their children or other family and are capable of taking care of themselves. Senior living homes focus more on recreational facilities like clubhouses and gyms, and on encouraging a healthy social life.
With assisted living, the focus is more on those who require a little or intensive assistance in leading their daily lives. These projects provide medical and nursing care with assistants to help them with moving around, medication, and routines like getting dressed and bathing.
Continued Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
What happens when you opt for a senior living home, but your health takes a turn for the worse? This is where Continued Care Retirement Communities come in. Many assisted, and senior living facilities have intensive services that take into account the needs of their residents as they continue to age. CCRC ensures that you continue living in the same space, surrounded by familiar faces, and avoids the trauma of going to hospitals for small check-ups or shifting to other facilities.
Old age homes
These are the traditional shelters that accommodate the truly homeless elderly and are usually managed by charitable organisations or the government. Many of them offer free accommodation but have only bare necessities, and the quality is questionable. It’s some of these institutions that have given the concept of senior homes a bad rap due to their ill-management and poor facilities.
Read More: The Top 5 Retirement Cities in South India
While senior and assisted living is still relatively new concepts in India, they are gaining more exposure and popularity as satisfied customers spread the word.
Most retirement homes in India today offer all the facilities that the elderly will need with the most important being medical access. Medical care facilities range from 24/7 ambulance services, clinical labs, and availability of nurses to holistic healthcare like Ayurveda and physiotherapy.
All homes have a canteen and dining area where food is prepared keeping in mind the average health conditions and dietary restrictions of the residents. Many units are equipped with kitchens too enabling the residents to cook their own meals. In more upscale facilities, the choices of food are more, and they have the option to have their food delivered.
All facilities have provisions for activities, but the range depends on a variety of factors like size and pricing. They have a host of options like gyms, swimming pools, jogging or walking tracks, indoor games, and yoga rooms. They also have spaces where the residents can plan cultural and entertainment programmes.
There are options to rent or buy retirement homes that are spread all across India. While old age homes are separate institutions, retirement homes can be part of a township or general residential housing projects.
The biggest drawback to retirement homes is the cost, which is noticeably higher than regular housing or old age homes. Rentals can go up to Rs 45,000-50,000 for a well-designed and luxurious villa with superior facilities. If you want to buy, the prices can range anywhere between Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 2 crore for 1 to 3 BHK apartments and are also dependent on the kind of facilities they offer.
Prema and Mukundan decided that they would like to test the waters before they took the plunge and bought a house. Today, they are happy with their rented 2 BHK flat, and their children are at peace knowing that their parents are being well taken care of.
Read More: The Top 3 Retirement Cities in North India