Does a country dominated by millennials care for senior citizens?

By Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities
April 10, 2019

 

The senior citizen population in India is 116 million; however, they are almost an invisible cohort. A report states that there are approximately 20,000 senior housing units currently operational, under construction, or in the planning phase, while the urban demand alone for senior housing is 2.4 lakh houses. Beyond tax redemption and basic pension plans, policymakers have not done much to guarantee them a peaceful life post-retirement.

 

More than half of India’s billion population is under 25 years old, making it the country with the most signicant number and percentage of young citizens. The number of young people in India is an astounding 600 million. More than the populations of the United States, Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom – combined.

 

On the other hand, the senior citizen population in India is 116 million. So, for every ve millennials in India, there is one senior citizen.

 

Needless to say, this statistic has inuenced how our companies, industries, brands and organisations structure and operate their businesses. The consumer market is dominated by millennials.

 

The focus of businesses today is almost entirely on young people. Brands are jostling for the youth’s attention, trying very hard to be a part of their consideration set. India is also focused on the startup culture, technological innovation and disruptive businesses, propelled mainly by the country’s youth population.

 

It is no surprise that amid this frenzy, we have almost forgotten about the seniors in our society.

 

They are almost an invisible cohort. Pop culture does not recognise them, the media does not feature them enough (when was the last time you saw a senior citizen on the cover of a magazine?) and businesses are not geared to serve their specic needs.

 

For example, it is nearly impossible to nd a restaurant or a shopping mall that is senior friendly and can be accessed on a mobility device in a country that has the second largest senior population in the world. Our urban infrastructure is not designed keeping seniors’ needs in mind.

 

The generation that has given their all to their families, to society and the nation, deserves better.

 

HelpAge India’s 2018 report states that by 2050, the senior citizen population will be equal to its under-18 population. Therefore, companies and policymakers should do well to focus their energies on serving the unique needs of their seniors and tapping into hitherto untapped demography.

 

Our seniors have a erce desire for independence, and there is a need to treat them as individuals rather than as a cohort. However, the larger need is to rid them of all age-related stereotypes that they have been subjected to for years.

 

Moreover, while the advancement of health care has resulted in increasing life spans, the bane of old age continues to be loneliness. Our seniors are faced with numerous physical, psychological and social role changes that challenge their sense of self and capacity to live happily. Many people experience loneliness and depression in old age, either as a result of living alone or due to lack of close family ties and reduced connections with their culture of origin, which results in an inability to participate in the community activities actively.

 

However, beyond tax redemption and basic pension plans, policymakers have not done much to guarantee them a peaceful life post-retirement. Data suggests that since nearly 92 percent of the workforce is employed in professions that do not ensure a secure retirement, the elderly are compelled to work well into their advanced years to provide nancial security.

 

A CII report states that there are approximately 20,000 senior housing units currently operational, under construction, or in the planning phase, while the urban demand alone for senior housing is 2.4 lakh houses.

 

A survey of more than 10,000 respondents conducted by Agewell Research and Advocacy Centre showed that 62.1 percent of the elderly did not get long term care in India. It is this gap that senior care communities aim to address. With advancing years and a diminishing capability to do all that they could in their younger years, senior citizens need consistent and reliable support to look after their day-to-day needs.

 

Seniors in our country continue to grapple with the rising cost of health care, lack of safety, security. There is more. Isolation, neglect and lack of senior-friendly social opportunities and nancial security make their golden years not so golden after all. It is perhaps easy to see why it is our seniors and not so much our millennials that need all the attention, support and dedication.

 

“Caring for our seniors is perhaps the greatest responsibility we have. Those who walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy.”

 

American banker and politician John Hoeven

 

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