As India grows, countless educated professionals have gravitated outside their home states for better job opportunities and preferred to settle there. However, their parents were left behind. As the share and the size of elderly population increases over time, the need for senior living projects is being felt. Old-age homes, in most cases, tend to have a poor reputation. This is why senior living homes that cater to seniors who are looking to live independently in a peer environment has become an important area. A 360 degrees makeover has happened in the senior living space and senior independent living projects have come up fully equipped to meet the specific needs and requirements of seniors and also providing recreation, and luxury, says Deepak Gupta, founder, Eden Senior. In an interview with Kumar Shankar Roy, Gupta, who has 35 years of global experience including as the Country Head and MD for Korn/Ferry International’s India office, talks about the demand drivers for senior living, why old-age homes may be inadequate, recurring expenses in a senior living project, and much more.

Tell us why there is a demand for senior living projects in India

Both the share and size of the elderly population is increasing over time.  From 5.6 per cent in 1961, 7.4 per cent in 2001, 8.6 per cent in 2011, it is projected to rise to 12.4 per cent of the population by the year 2026. In case of a large number of elderly persons in the population, the country needs more and more health and medical services, facilities and resources.

This is where senior living comes in, both in the affordable and luxury segments. The pressure on hospitals needs to be channeled so that they are free to focus on the sick whether young or old.  Preventive, holistic, integrative medicine can be a very cost-effective and medically beneficial offering that can be included in senior living facilities to reduce some of the dependence and high costs of allopathic medical care and pressure on hospitals.

In addition, the number of nuclear families in absolute terms increased from 135 million in 2001 to 172 million in 2011, but at a slower pace than the overall population. This means that the area that is most affected is related to the care of aging parents. However, on the flip side, parents feel that they do not want to burden their children with responsibility, which in some cases also results in children having to make choices that limit their career growth. Again, senior living is the answer.

We have old age homes already. How are senior living projects different?

Old age homes, historically, have always been very basic in nature and many times run by charitable institutions/NGOs. Now, a 360 degrees makeover has happened in the senior living space and Senior Independent Living projects have come up fully equipped to meet the specific needs and requirements of seniors and also provide recreation, luxury, etc.

These independent living spaces are designed in such a way that they provide the highest level of safety and comfort for our elderly in addition to luxury, recreation, etc.  Some of the features that you get to see are: A. Medical assistance: Medical emergencies are unpredictable. Hence, there are round-the-clock emergency support systems for the residents, with doctors, nurses, ambulance service, proximity to a multi-specialty hospital and appropriate medication for contingencies. B. Interiors that are age appropriate: For e.g. adequate lighting, anti-skid floors, emergency panic buttons in rooms, bathrooms equipped with grab-bars and so on. C. Safe atmosphere: These Senior Living homes are equipped with CCTV cameras and security guards are available round the clock.  D. Well equipped: Even the elderly need to have an active lifestyle. Thus, these independent living homes have adequate indoor and outdoor activities, swimming pools, yoga centers, fitness hubs and much more. E. Assistance: This is related to housekeeping or any mundane requirement for seamless and comfortable living.

What are the benefits and incentives for a person to purchase a unit in a senior living project?

The incentive should be oneself. Having worked hard to raise a family and settle the children, now these young seniors have the luxury to choose when to slow down / retire from full-time work and also be able to choose the luxury home that they would like to spend the rest of their lives in.

Today most young seniors seem keen to lead independent lives, away from the hectic lifestyles prevalent in the big cities. The next incentive is “Children”.  It is a win-win situation for both parents and children as both parties lead stress-free lives. The younger generation can now follow their dream to acquire a comfortable lifestyle and to live independently, without compromising with their passion or ambition. The seniors, too, can be content with this transition as they can also lead lives that are unrestrained and yet dignified and self-reliant.

What kind of recurring expenses can a senior person expect while living in a senior living project?

The recurring expenses include maintenance cost of common areas and electricity consumed.  In addition, housekeeping, meals and medical treatments as consumed are also there. In most senior living facilities, there will be flexible monthly packages, which include all or some of the services like housekeeping, meals and medical consultations / treatments.

If a person buys a normal home and keeps maids and attendants, how would they miss the amenities of a senior living project?

Firstly, it adds up to being more expensive to maintain homes and hire help for each of the different needs such as monthly rent/mortgage (if applicable), maids, cooks, cleaners, drivers, gardeners and medical attendant  salaries, laundry, utilities (water, electricity, gas, etc.), security and monitoring system, repairs and maintenance of home as well as the appliances, etc. in the home, common area maintenance, trash collection, pest control, monthly expense of three meals in a day, entertainment and social activities, fuel costs.

At Senior Living facilities, security and 24×7 medical attendants are available with doctors on call. A resident can do away with tiresome trips to the market for grocery and vegetable shopping as meals are served in the dining hall prepared by professional staff in consultation with dieticians for your specific needs. No need to worry about domestic help as housekeeping will be done by staff. Laundry services are also available on charge.  Florist, chemist, convenience stores are generally in the premises, Salon, recreation and concierge services are also available in the more luxurious senior living facilities.  For seniors this is what is required, free time to pursue hobbies, be in the company of like-minded people, and have ways of giving back to society through speaking and advisory assignments and various programs facilitated by the staff of the senior living facility.

Tell us about Eden Senior Living & Wellness. What are your business credentials and what are your plans in the senior living space?

At, Eden Senior Living & Wellness, we believe that life is for living to the fullest, more so in one’s latter years. Our gracious luxury senior living apartments are designed keeping seniors in mind for all spaces, including the circulation, washrooms, toilets, and wellness facilities.  Wide corridors and ramps eliminate the need for steps.  Attention to the smallest detail is reflected in the use of rounded corners, anti-skid flooring, unhindered wheelchair access, grab rails, etc.

Our team is composed of three founders: I, Deepak Gupta, Sanjiv Vohra, and Samir Gupta. Dr. Alok Bhatia is a senior advisor on integrative wellness. We have over 100 years of collective experience in areas of real estate development, integrative and holistic healthcare, primary healthcare with setting up of hospitals and clinics, providing healthcare training, management consulting, banking, recruiting, IT etc. Our plan for senior living is to deliver our first project under Eden Senior Living & Wellness in Dehradun with integrative health and wellness to the satisfaction of our customers.

Every once in a while we have seen how real estate promoters promise the moon but falter on delivery. How can senior living customers trust an entity in this backdrop? What are the parameters one should select so that due diligence is properly done?

Eden is a realization of a dream, which all the three promoters share and bring their professional experience of decades to the table to make it a reality. Ours is probably the only payment option that you can find in the market that promises a guaranteed buyback. If at the end of three years the buyer thinks Eden is not for him/her, for any reason, then we will buy it back at the pre-agreed guaranteed buy-back rate, which also provides for appreciation.

Some parameters amongst others that buyers could look into are 1. Land ownership, 2. RERA clearance, 3. Track record of promoters of appreciation and delivery of previous projects, 4. Penalty clause, and 5. Bank Approval: as banks do their due diligence on land ownership and promoters before approval.