NEWS of Columbia Pacific Communities

Tips To Stay Vigilant Of Breast Cancer Symptoms

According to WHO, in 2020, 2.3 million women were affected by breast cancer, of which 6,85,000 died due to this disease. Breast cancer can occur in women of any age but is more prevalent in older age groups.   Modifiable risk factors: Smoking Alcohol consumption Radiation exposure Oral hormonal contraception without a doctor’s supervision Discontinuation of breastfeeding at an early stage   Non-modifiable risk factors According to WHO, breast cancer mainly occurs in women and only 0.5-1 % of men suffer from it. Genetic predisposition also plays an important role. High penetrance gene mutations in BRCA-1, BRCA2 and PALB-2 are responsible for the occurrence of this disease.   What are the symptoms to look for? • Check for lumps in the breast, but not all lumps can be cancerous. Any changes in the colour of the skin over the breast with no history of injury • Any retraction of the nipple• Any bloody discharge per nipple • Retraction of the skin over the areola   How to self-examine? Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan, head, Wellness and Wellbeing at Columbia Pacific Communities, says, “All women above the age of 20 years should self-examine their breasts once a month, preferably after the beginning of the menstrual cycle. They should look out for skin colour changes, puckering of skin, and retractions of nipple areola on inspection and, in palpation, confirm if there are any underlying swelling and discharges from the nipple.”   Dr Mahadevan shares one should stand and use the below techniques:   Inspection Stand in front of the mirror, exposing the breasts and observe with arms hanging by the side, arms held over hips and arms raised above shoulders.   Palpation For the right breast, raise the right arm above the shoulders, use the palmar surface of the middle three fingers of the left hand, and start palpating in a clockwise direction from outwards in a spiral direction and reach up the nipple. It is done vice versa on the left side. Palpate with pressure given superficially first, then intermediate and finally deep to feel the area beneath the skin to deeper tissue exploration. It can be done in a lying position, too. If there are any noticeable visible changes over the breast, any discharge per nipple, or any lump felt, one should approach the clinician. Lifestyle tips to prevent the risk: 1. Have a balanced nutrition diet 2. Keep the weight closer to the ideal body weight 3. Include adequate physical activity in the regular routine

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Maximizing solace, peace and happiness for senior citizens

For creating an ideal environment (both indoor and outdoor) for senior citizens, communities must prioritize ageing positively and create spaces that cater to their minutest needs. This article dwells into other important aspects to be considered while designing spaces conducive for elderly care.   PHYSICAL WELL-BEING The design of spaces within the homes, as well as the common areas must adhere to the international accessibility guidelines to ensure seniors’ physical well-being and comfort. It is essential to pay attention to finer details — choice of colour for the walls and ceiling, anti-skid flooring materials, emergency lighting work, the placement of switches and receptacles, strategic installation of grab bars and leaning rails, and appropriate furniture dimensions — while designing the interiors. The inclusion of a medical centre, an elevator capable of accommodating a stretcher, and corridors leading to the medical centre designed for stretcher movement is also a necessity. Spaces that would address the needs to improve or maintain physical fitness, such as senior-friendly gymnasiums, massage rooms and yoga decks, must be evaluated while finalizing the spatial program.   NUTRITIONAL WELL-BEING Nutritional needs are also of prime importance, therefore providing a kitchen and a dining facility with a specialized menu is essential. Seamless planning of in-room dining facilities is crucial, including mapping out food trolley routes and accounting for a service elevator.   EMOTIONAL, MENTAL AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING Designing spaces that encourage social interactions and provide opportunities for activities can significantly improve the emotional, mental, and social well-being of seniors. Operators can use these spaces to promote engagement at a personal and community level. While spaces such as multipurpose halls facilitate such activities at a community level, even a well-designed lounge, TV viewing area, reading corners, or a seating area near an elevator lobby largely facilitate social interactions daily.   SAFETY AND SECURITY Evaluating every design element in interior spaces for safety and security is important. This aspect of design starts with identifying entry and exit points to the building and extend further with integrating fire, safety, and security systems into the interior design of the spaces. The risk of falls needs to be evaluated for every area, and necessary provisions such as non-slippery flooring and support like railings must be integrated into the design. Care must be taken to incorporate emergency power supply into the design. Emergency access to the homes should always be available to authorized personnel to address needs in time of an emergency. The design of the locking arrangement for the homes and common areas has to be suitably planned to meet this requirement. The use of CCTV cameras at appropriate outdoor locations is also the need of the hour.   NATURE OF OUTDOOR SPACES The extent of usage and the kind of spaces to be planned largely depend on the climatic conditions of the location. In areas with favourable weather conditions, planning spaces such as jogging and walking tracks, multipurpose gathering areas for events, outdoor gyms, meditation and yoga decks, outdoor dining spaces, and smaller community gathering areas are beneficial. These areas contribute to health and wellness, encourage social interactions, and facilitate community activities, which significantly contribute to positive ageing. Gazebos and seating areas also add a lot of value for smaller gatherings. Provision for outdoor movie screening could also be considered. Pet parks are also preferred as a feature in pet-friendly communities and could be considered a part of the overall design of outdoor spaces. The positioning of the same needs to be carefully planned. The material used for flooring in all the outdoor areas should be non-slippery and suitable for outdoor application. Stone, if used, needs to be in a flamed finish. Flooring used for the outdoor gym and jogging track should include rubberized flooring to minimize injuries in case of a fall.

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Senior-Friendly Homes for Sustainability, Personalization & Cognitive Well-being

As we grow old, we tend to get lot of troubles in terms or health and well-being.  The senior citizen age group falling between 70 and 80 is very delicate and sensitive to take care of!  In major cosmopolitan cities it is a trend among young generation to leave their parents behind in the home town while fulfilling aspirations and aiming goals & greatness. Especially, it is very important for them who go the foreign lands to utilize their skill and earn an affluent life. A well-defined place becomes basic requirement to give them a high class, hygienic & healthy lifestyle with top notch facilities.   Senior citizens and older adults are very delicate to deal with, and they deserve a constant support in terms of emotional, mental, and physical to live a healthy disease free life. With aging cognitive abilities tend to decline rapidly and they tend to lose their natural ability to clearly think, learn, and remember. So, cognitive well-being is of paramount importance in the lifestyle of seniors. For this reason, healthcare professionals have suggested that keeping seniors socially, mentally and physically active and adopting correct dietary changes may help slow cognitive decline in elderly individuals. According to the data report, within 30 years, India’s senior population is supposed to triple to 300 million, which would make up 18% of its total population in 2050.   Hence, the senior living developers integrate the design with specific spaces conducive to cognitive well-being in senior living communities. In today’s era people believe in luxurious living which will boost physical and psychological well-being. The spaces that shall be specifically planned to meet this requirement in senior living communities. Several new design trends are emerging in senior livings. Let’s take a look of the top notch features: Social/leisure Activities – Creating indoor and outdoor spaces that facilitate leisure activities for small and large groups, such as brain training games, needs to be an integral part of design. Providing indoor games rooms and multipurpose outdoor spaces that can be utilized for such activities may help facilitate this requirement. Spaces for recreation such as TV lounges, theatres, and an outdoor amphitheater may be helpful based on the social and cultural preferences of the geographical location. These activities not only provide companionship but also promote a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Facilitate Physical Activity – Spaces that facilitate physical activities can be provided at different levels. A gymnasium with senior-friendly equipment may be necessary to accommodate individual needs, including spaces for yoga, jogging, and walking. Spaces also need to be planned for group exercises and chair exercises. Providing an indoor multipurpose hall as well as an outdoor multipurpose space will help organize and conduct such events in a senior living community in a defined manner. Social Involvement & Interactions – Indoor and outdoor spaces need to be planned to encourage social interactions and participation between the community residents. The positioning of these spaces in the floor plan should be planned and integrated with the overall design to ensure visibility and ease of accessibility to these spaces. Spaces such as indoor and outdoor lounges, dining spaces, and group activity spaces must be considered as a part of the design. Nutrition & Dietary Needs – A dedicated kitchen and restaurant facility within the community would help to facilitate nutrition and dietary needs of seniors. Facilities for in-room dining and central & decentralized dining facilities could also be considered as part of the design based on community-specific needs. Gone are those bland days where senior living homes offered blunt, boring food every day, now reputed senior living homes are providing restaurant-style dining experiences with diverse menus. Safety & Seurity Measures – Advanced security systems, emergency response protocols, and 24/7 staff availability are becoming standard features. This is the basic facility of a senior living home to take a good care of the safety and security of the old residents so that their loved ones have peace of mind. Pet-Friendly Community – Pets are the dearest when people don’t have their loved ones near them. These innocent loving creatures bring immense pleasure and joy to its master and become their support system. So, to be pet-friendly and making necessary arrangements for the pets might be helpful for cognitive well-being based on the socio-cultural aspects of the location of the community. Basic Structure to Have While designing the spaces to support cognitive well-being in a senior living community, it is essential to ensure they are accessible to persons with mobility limitations. Also, the materials and finishes used in such areas should be carefully selected to reduce the risk of falls. Lighting in these areas should be appropriate for the function for which the spaces are being designed. In areas designed for facilitating physical activities, it is recommended to consider a resilient material for the flooring to reduce the risk of injuries during an accidental fall. Provisions for gardening activities could also be explored in geographies with suitable climatic conditions. Last but not least is the integration of technology in the homes such as home automation systems, safety & security systems and providing a completely Wi-Fi enabled community plays a very significant role in helping the seniors remain well connected and active as well as enhancing the level of comfort and safety within the home as well as the community.   In India, the senior living landscape is evolving by leaps and bounds, and this industry is witnessing a shift towards integrated healthcare services within communities, ensuring convenient access to medical facilities. Culturally sensitive design is also on the rise, incorporating local traditions into the living spaces. These trends reflect a commitment to holistic well-being and a sense of familiarity for residents. Construction companies are prioritizing convenience in senior living homes by adopting accessible design elements. Ramps, elevators, and minimal stairs enhance mobility, while strategically placing amenities close to residential units minimizes travel within the community. This compact and user-friendly approach caters to the specific needs of seniors, promoting ease of navigation.   To address the age and health factors of seniors, developers are incorporating entertainment features tailored to their preferences. Multipurpose recreational spaces offer age-appropriate gaming consoles, movie screening rooms with comfortable seating, and hobby areas for activities like painting. Fitness programs are also adapted to accommodate varying mobility levels, ensuring that entertainment contributes to residents’ overall well-being.   With the increasing tech-savviness of seniors, modern tech amenities are becoming integral to senior living spaces. Smart home features, including automated lighting and temperature control, are standard, enhancing convenience. Robust security systems with CCTV surveillance and emergency response features provide residents and their families with peace of mind. These technologies align with the preferences of the tech-savvy senior demographic, ensuring connectivity and security within the community.   Finally, from embracing technology to promoting wellness, sustainability, and personalized care, these trends are reshaping senior living communities to meet the desires and needs of today’s senior citizens. With time, the obsolete concept of shabby residential for senior citizens has vanished and replaced by modern equipped and enriched environment where people will be aging gracefully.

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Creating posture friendly environments in senior communities

Designing a home for senior communities demands a meticulous approach, catering to their diverse needs. This article delves into the art of crafting a posture-friendly environment that seamlessly integrates accessibility and comfort. From wheelchair-friendly areas to well-lit interiors, ergonomic furniture, and thoughtfully planned outdoor areas, the design elements outlined here aim to enhance their overall well-being.   Design for senior community The design for senior community should address needs changing with their ages. Their houses should be designed to support their physical, emotional, social, and nutritional needs. Here are a few points you should consider when designing houses and common areas for senior citizens.   Accessibility of space While designing a home for seniors, there is future possibility of a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, which should be addressed. The rooms’ size and furniture layout should be done with necessary clearance for wheelchair movement. It is recommended to follow the American Disability Act, or the National Building Code. The bathroom should have enough space for wheelchair movement. The positioning of the sanitary ware and CP fittings should be done considering the same. The height of the fittings should be specified accordingly. Grab bars need to be planned as per their heights. Other essential elements include shower seats and hand showers. The width of doors should be suitable for wheelchair movement, at least for primary residents. Avoiding latches and providing locks, to be accessed during emergencies, is preferable. The bathroom doors should be opened outward and provided with a door closer. The recommended clear opening width is 900mm.   Flooring and finishing Non-slippery tiles should be used for flooring. Level difference should be avoided. Appropriate detailing needs to be done to facilitate wheelchair movement.   Lighting levels The lighting levels should be appropriate to ensure comfort. A lux level of three hundred is recommended for senior communities for interiors and the public area. It is crucial to determine and verify the location of light fixtures and lamp specifications during the designing with a lux-level calculation. It helps ensure adequate lighting is maintained in residential and public areas. It is recommended to maximize the daylight in rooms. In senior living communities, it is essential to keep uniformity of the lighting levels between various areas, as it would be difficult for senior citizens to adapt to sudden changes. While selecting the light fixtures, glare needs to be minimal. Even for natural daylighting, blinds or curtains shall be planned appropriately to manage light entering the rooms. In areas witnessing power outages, installing emergency lighting systems is important. It ensures basic illumination, even during power transitions. The design should be intended to avoid complete darkness at any point. Planning switch controls for lights is also essential for comfortable living. Two-way switches, positions, and heights of the switch control should be planned to provide accessibility. The installation of switch controls should be reachable by people in a wheelchair.   Fixed and loose furniture When designing a kitchen or wardrobe, it is important to consider the needs of those in wheelchairs. It includes the height of countertops, design of skirting, location of handles, and arrangement of shelves and drawers. The American Disability Act states clear guidelines regarding the design detailing and heights to be followed for ease of access. The storage below sinks or washbasins must be detailed to help with wheelchair movement. Pull-down counters may be helpful for a wheelchair user. Use handles instead of knobs. The furniture and the corners of walls should be smooth to ensure there are no sharp edges. The design of loose furniture should be selected considering the height for backrest, armrest, and seat. The recommended standards should be followed.   Amenities and facilities Designing amenities for senior citizens requires defined space to meet the requirements of social/leisure activities, exercise, physical activities, social involvement, interactions, dietary, and nutritional needs. Lounges, multipurpose halls, game rooms, TV lounges, and reading rooms should meet the requirements of leisure activities and encourage social interaction between people. Areas designed for physical fitness should include yoga decks, jogging, gym, and walking tracks. It is recommended to have a medical center, catering to any emergencies. A dedicated kitchen and restaurant facility within the community would help facilitate their nutrition and dietary needs. Facilities for in-room dining, central and decentralized dining facilities should be considered as part of the design based on community-specific needs.   Outdoor space Planning areas, such as jogging and walking tracks, multipurpose gathering space for events, outdoor gyms, meditation and yoga decks, outdoor dining spaces and small community gathering areas are essential. These areas promote health and wellness, encouraging social interactions and community activities. These areas must be free from vehicular traffic. Meeting mobility and accessibility factors is of utmost importance. Appropriate lighting levels, safety, security, and material selection are essential.   Conclusion The design for senior communities goes beyond mere aesthetics, aiming to create an environment not only catering to the diverse needs of senior citizens but also enhancing their overall quality of life. By prioritizing accessibility, safety, and comfort in every facet – from the layout of houses and common areas to lighting, furniture, and outdoor spaces – we can truly foster a supportive and enriching living experience for seniors.

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Columbia Pacific to invest Rs 200 cr to launch senior living homes across India

For the first time, Columbia Pacific is foraying into a rental model for senior living in India through assisted senior living communities. By the end of FY25, the company plans to have eight communities with about 2,000 homes under construction and on sale across nine cities in India.   US-based Columbia Pacific Communities (CPC) plans to invest about Rs 200 crore to develop 2 million square feet (msf) of senior living projects across India in two years. By the end of FY 2024-25, the company intends to have eight communities with about 2,000 homes under construction and on sale across nine cities in India. “We are planning to add about 800-1,000 senior living homes every year, with a potential revenue of Rs 150-200 crore per project,” Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities, told Moneycontrol. Currently, CPC is operational across Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Pondicherry. Additionally, the company plans to foray into Pune by the end of December 2023. “In FY 2024-25, we will foray into Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata for the first time. We will add at least one project in Bengaluru, two in Chennai and one or two projects in Hyderabad over the next two years,” Nirula said. The partnerships in Hyderabad and Kolkata are in an advanced stage and will become active in FY 2023-24. The company has already tied up with the Nyati Group for a senior living development in Pune, with an investment of Rs 150 crore. In Chennai, CPC recently launched a senior living project with TVS Emerald, with a potential revenue of Rs 175 crore.   What are senior living projects and assisted living communities? Senior living projects are residential apartments built for seniors, with special facilities like wheelchair-friendly doors, anti-skid flooring, and assistive care to deal with age-related issues. Such projects have already come up across cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Coimbatore. Nirula added that, currently, CPC has independent senior living models where seniors can live independently and do not require support or care to carry out daily activities. However, services like housekeeping, gardening etc., are looked after by service providers, he added. “However, today we are looking at a new model called assisted living communities (or rental models) where seniors will require assistance even for their daily activities,” he said. In this model, seniors can rent out senior living apartments for a monthly rent after paying a deposit, similar to renting out standard residential apartments. Additionally, CPC will charge the developer a certain percentage of revenue as management fees. “As opposed to the business model that we already have in place where we get into a joint development with the developer by creating a new company with a 50:50 or a 24:74 partnership, in the assisted living model, we will not deploy any equity,” Nirula said. Instead, CPC will provide its expertise in design, marketing and operations while the project will be built and sold by the developer. The first assisted living project will be launched in Bengaluru in the next year, followed by another one in Chennai. The apartments will have a deposit amount and a rental of about Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000 in places like Bengaluru. “When the senior leaves, the asset will be returned to the developer and the deposit will be refunded,” Nirula said. He said such models will help bring flexibility to the senior living sector across India where the residents are older and their children stay in another city. Here, the residents can easily rent an asset instead of investing in it, Nirula mentioned. However, he believes introducing a rental model for senior living is challenging in the Indian market. “Land costs are much higher in the country, and, in such models, capital investments will be much higher. However, such projects will have a rental yield of 5-6 percent. A combination of the rental amount, interest on the deposit and the appreciation of the asset over time is an adequate return for the developer,” he added. The rental model will also help CPC overcome the challenges while expanding its portfolio across new cities. “Every city has its own development rules and regulations for acquiring land or even construction. Leaving such responsibilities to the local developer will offer us more flexibility for expansion. For example, we will be following such models while we expand to Kolkata or Hyderabad,” Nirula added.     Challenges in senior living Nirula believes, in real-estate sectors like India, senior living is still largely a commercial product, opening up affordability challenges in the sector. “For example, if you bought a house in a younger phase of life, today the house will have appreciated in value. However, you won’t be able to unlock its potential at your older age. That is where we need a strategically planned reverse mortgage that will help the senior and the banks alike,” he added. A reverse mortgage loan, unlike a traditional mortgage, allows homeowners, especially seniors, to borrow money using their home as security for the loan. Again, land availability, for example, in places like the central business district of Bengaluru is a major problem. “We always operate on the outskirts of the city. Being an integrated community, we have all facilities like medical care available within the campuses,” he added. Currently, CPC is looking at northern Bengaluru, eastern places like Sarjapura and parts of southern Bengaluru for further development.     Taking help from technology Nirula said CPC is constantly upgrading its senior living technologies to offer seniors a flexible lifestyle. “Within six months, we are about to launch a product, integrated with artificial intelligence to monitor the seniors. We will be able to coordinate with doctors and use this technology to recommend lifestyle changes for residents,” Nirula added. Additionally, CPC is working on products around the Internet of Things (IoT) for emergency support, making lifestyle changes or high-quality reactive responses in circumstances. IoT uses embedded sensors, software, and other technologies to exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet.

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A safe and sustainable solution for sunset years

Mohit Nirula, CEO of Columbia Pacific Communities

As of 2019, over 139 million people living in India are aged over 60, which is over 10 per cent of the country’s total population. The proportion of older people is expected to almost double to 19.5 per cent in 2050 with 319 million people aged over 60. This means that 1 in 5 Indians is likely to be a senior citizen. Unlike the generations before them, today’s elders are more independent, financially stable, well-travelled, and socially-connected individuals.   Among the bold and unconventional choices is opting to spend the rest of their sunset years at senior living communities. Mohit Nirula, the CEO of Columbia Pacific Communities, one of India’s largest senior living community operators, shares his thoughts with CE on the boost in demand after the pandemic, change in perception, and why it’s the way forward.   Excerpts follow: Has the pandemic boosted the demand for senior citizen housing? As a concept, it’s relatively new to India. But, the adoption and acceptance have grown. Given a choice between living with children and moving into a senior living community, society prefers the former, as living separately means lack of love or understanding. But, if you think from the perspective of of children who live away from parents due to professional commitments, it’s better for parents to stay in a community that’s designed keeping in mind their needs than living alone. This reality dawned on many of them during the pandemic. In fact, seniors in our facility fared better than those living alone with their medical and other needs taken care of. Now, the demand has gone through the roof and we have a waiting list of people who want to move into our facilities.   Is the perception of the concept changing among today’s generation? Our society often attaches a stigma to parents and children not living together because that’s the default setting. But, senior citizens — after having fulfilled their responsibility to children, parents, careers, and society — have all rights to decide how they wish to retire. That way, senior living communities have become the preferred option. For children, in other cities, this offers some solace that their parents are in safe hands. It solves the physical, mental, and intellectual needs of all generations.   Four of your living communities are in Coimbatore. How’s the distribution of your service in Tamil Nadu? Coimbatore became the default option for senior living communities because of the good weather, great medical infrastructure, and a low cost of living. Perhaps, that’s why it’s called the retirement capital of Tamil Nadu. But our focus currently is on tier 1 cities as there’s a gap between supply and demand.  Besides our existing properties in Chennai — Serene Pushkar and Serene Adinath — we are hopeful to launch our next property in the metro.   What do the seniors of today expect? Good senior living should fulfil three factors — it should give you the space to explore your wants rather than needs. The medical requirements must be taken care of.  We also emphasise positive aging. The focus is not just to increase the length of life but also on the quality of life in terms of physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and nutritional growth.   How do you keep up with the emerging trends in the segment? We are trying to remain ahead of the curve. Whatever we design today is going to stay relevant for the next three years. Technology is going to be a great enabler. Today’s elders are tech-savvy and adopt technologies that improve the comfort and convenience of their lives. They stay away from anything that complicates simple tasks.   How do you suggest today’s generation and their parents approach the concept of senior living? The focus must be on the service provider. One must always ask ‘Where will I be happier 10 to 20 years from now? If you focus on just the present situation then your options will be limited. There’s a lot of scope and potential for expansion in the industry.

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Design for health and safety in a senior living community


The health and safety of residents are of paramount importance in any senior living community where positive ageing is the primary focus. Hence beyond the safety aspects of design as per the National Building Code of India (NBC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for disabled-friendly design, the infrastructure should have components that would facilitate residents to embrace a lifestyle that allows to keep themselves physically fit, mentally alert and intellectually stimulated.   The safety aspects of design should primarily focus on details to ensure the smooth movement of mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers in homes as well as the common areas of the building. This will encourage the resident to use a mobility aid to move freely in the community, which can further foster social interactions and help in improving the individual’s mental well-being.   Design aspects for senior living communities – Design elements to reduce falls like the use of non-slippery flooring providing grab bars and handrails for assistance, especially in the washrooms – Avoid level differences of any kind in the flooring and use of ramps instead of steps – Prevent complete darkness during power transitions using emergency lighting – Uninterrupted power supply to elevators – Keep power points and switches at accessible reach.   Adequate space Just as good lighting is essential for any senior living community, space is another vital parameter that requires equal attention. Space should be allocated for emergency facilities such as a clinic with an ambulance. The clinic’s location should be strategically planned so that there is a clearly-defined path to facilitate easy movement of the stretchers. Ambulances should also be allotted a path for unhindered transportation. The clinic’s corridor width, elevator dimensions and door structures should be designed in compliance with the NBC/ADA guidelines. The use of colours and elements such as a memory niche can be integrated into the design.   Focusing on holistic health Physical health can be enhanced through gyms, spas, outdoor walking tracks, and yoga and meditation decks made of suitable material. There are other essential components such as mental, emotional, spiritual and nutrition requirements that need proper planning for the complete well-being of the residents in a senior living community. There are several community activities that can take care of most of these requirements. Right from the space planning stage, an appropriate area needs to be allocated for activities that will encourage social gatherings. The design and positioning of the common areas of the building are critical. A welcome lobby having chairs, a bookshelf or television, space to play board games or indoor games, community gardens, an amphitheatre for outdoor movie screenings and multipurpose halls for celebrations can be planned. Further, nutrition is a critical aspect of the health and well-being of senior residents. The kitchen and central dining space should be carefully designed to cater to various needs.   Conclusively, design and infrastructure for residents’ health, well-being, and safety in a senior living community should begin at the space planning stage. This can be translated into design elements spaces for both indoor as well as outdoor comfort and then continue till the detailing of smaller design elements such as furniture, furnishings, signage and interiors.

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We have emerged stronger and wiser

Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities

Looking Back Columbia Pacific Communities is the country’s largest operator and creator of senior living communities. 2021 required us to do right by the residents we have the privilege to serve, the teams that help us provide this service, our vendors who make both the operations of the communities and the development of new projects possible and our investors who were unstinting in both their moral and material support.   I am grateful to our Leadership Team that was able to steer the company through this extremely turbulent year. With the blessings of the Almighty and the seniors we serve, Columbia Pacific Communities has emerged stronger and wiser.   Our communities are safe and happy, our projects are on schedule and we have a robust pipeline of new senior living communities ready for launch across multiple cities in 2022 – 23.   At the operations level, our focussed objective was to keep our residents safe and protected from the COVID virus. Our front-line team ensured that both our residents and service personnel were double-vaccinated expeditiously. The Columbia Pacific Communities’ philosophy of Positive Ageing allowed our residents to continue to be socially engaged while maintaining physical distance.   The guidance from our healthcare partners – Manipal Hospitals, the sage advice of the Resident Committees and the wholehearted cooperation of our residents ensured that both our residents and their extended families enjoyed peace of mind in a year that has been stressful in the extreme.   Most importantly, as a service company, it is our people – both at the communities and the Support and Strategy Office that truly make us the country’s most preferred senior living community operators.   I am especially grateful to our investors for their support and endorsement that allowed us to retain each and every member of our team and not deduct any salaries at any point in time. This was in striking contrast with what we saw happening around us.   Looking Forward   2021 was a tipping point for the senior living industry. The lived and experienced safety, comfort and companionship of senior citizens residing in communities designed for them was in complete contrast with the anguish and desperation experienced by those living on their own or in mixed family condominiums.   This contrast was also experienced by the children living in cities and countries away from their parents.   The demand for homes within senior living communities has gone through the roof – both in operating communities where we have a waiting list and in communities under development where there is a 4x increase in demand.   It is our belief that 2022 will firmly establish senior living communities as a complete and comprehensive solution for seniors needs – both at the moment and as these needs evolve over time.  Well run senior living communities that frees residents from the chores of daily life, encourages them and provides opportunities to embrace positive ageing as a lifestyle and gives them peace of mind for their medical needs will become the preferred option for seniors and their children.   Priorities, going ahead   The reason our team and the company were able to do so well in 2021 was on account of their singular focus on Columbia Pacific Communities’ mission statement: “To be the country’s most preferred operator and creator of senior living communities”.   Readers will notice that, we as a company, by using the term “preferred”, have surrendered the measurement of our success to our residents, our team members and our Developer partners.   It is they, based on their interaction with Columbia Pacific Communities, who shall rate our performance based on their experience as residents of our communities, as members of our work teams and as partners in the projects we launch together.   It is this one all important, all-encompassing driver of all our actions – the desire to remain true to all three stakeholders that will drive our company forward in our endeavour to be synonymous with providing seniors the opportunity to truly indulge themselves after they have spent a lifetime in service of their parents, their children, their organisations, society and the nation.   As far as advice for young professionals is concerned, Our team members are expected to adhere to the Company Dharma in all their interactions with our stakeholders – Unconditional Love, Respect and Care. Being human and respecting core values is normally the first elements to be sacrificed at the altar of what is expedient.   It is at these times that our actions be guided by what is “right” instead of what is “convenient” is tested to the core.   Much can be gained by singular focus on the end or results. Longer term, abiding and sustaining victories are achieved when one focusses as much on the means by which one attains the results.   Learnings and realizations across 2021   2021 and especially the second wave showed us what we should have always known – life is transitory. When one evaluates one’s priorities against this paradigm, one realises that with the right priorities, every moment of this brief time on earth can be enriched by having one’s actions guided by the eternal values of humility and empathy. I hope that “better” times do not make one lapse into the more material and impermanent excesses of the self.  

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Design elements specific to senior living homes

Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities

Prima facie, the only difference between mixed family condominiums and senior citizen homes would be the average age of the residents. From a design point of view, nothing could be further from the truth.   While one may think that designing a community for a single (senior) demographic with homogeneity of needs should be a simpler task, architects will tell you otherwise.   Several reasons underline these apparent dichotomies. A few of these are:   Where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts: A sense of “community” is essential in order to ensure that residents have the space and the opportunity to be socially active. Senior living communities dedicate disproportionately high space for common areas, thereby allowing residents to spend more time out of their homes with friends and neighbours pursuing hobbies and activities of common interest. Good senior living communities will dedicate as much as 10 percent of the developable area to common use areas. This is between four – six times more than regular residential projects.   Where the community is as good for me at 55 as it is at 95: The design of the homes within and the community itself is such that every square inch of the facilities and services are reachable, accessible, practical and usable for all residents irrespective of their age and physical ability. Consequently, there are no height differences on the same floor, which obviates the need for steps. Corridor widths on residential floors, door widths within the home and in public spaces and paved pathways in outdoor spaces are just some design elements that keep all areas of the community accessible to all.   Where the community feels like home but works like a hotel: The “zero headache” lifestyle of residents is the consequence of their daily chores being attended to by the service providers. To this end, the “front of house” spaces are designed keeping the needs of the residents in mind even as the “heart of house” areas facilitate efficiency and ease of access for the service personnel. Hence, the route of the resident and the route of the service provider are kept distinct and separate, thereby ensuring that the residents and service providers with their very different speeds of movement do not converge in the same space.   Where access to healthcare is easy yet discrete: The wellness clinic should be easily accessible to residents but located in a manner to also provide privacy. Well-designed communities will locate the clinic such that while these are easy to access from the “front of house”, the “heart of the house” will include a route to the clinic and from the clinic to the ambulance that is simple, efficient and clutter-free to facilitate speed of movement in times of an emergency.   Where the care is real but discrete: Use of pastel colours to provide contrast, provision of shadow-free lighting, elevator doors that stay open longer, lean rails in corridors, matt finish floor tiles, chairs that have slightly higher seats and with padded arms, rounded edges on furniture and wall corners are all design features that may or may not be observed by either the resident or his / her visitors. Each, in their small way, makes life easier, simpler and safer for residents. It is no surprise that architects of senior living communities seek the advice of and take their insights from operators and service providers of senior living communities. A well designed senior living community allows residents to enjoy the facilities daily and forever while enabling the service provider to support the residents in doing so.

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Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus affects populations across developed and developing countries. It has posed a threat to the health of humans worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the global prevalence of diabetes for the year 2000 was estimated at 175 million people and the projected estimate worldwide by 2030 is 354 million. In India alone, the prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase from 31.7 million in 2000 to 79.4 million in 2030. (Global estimates for prevalence of diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance in adults: WHO Ad Hoc Diabetes Reporting Group. Diabetes Care 16:157–177, 1993)   Obesity due to lifestyle changes has increased the incidence of diabetes not only in adults but in children too. The risk factors to develop diabetes among Indians are sedentary lifestyle, lifestyle changes due to urbanisation.   Measures to prevent diabetes Type I diabetes mellitus is not preventable. But Type II diabetes is preventable. Dietary changes, adequate exercises and positive attitude towards life are important steps to pave the way for this prevention.   Dietary changes: This includes eating less carbohydrate, particularly avoiding refined carbohydrates such as white flour, polished rice and refined sugar, eating adequate proteins and fat. Eating at the right time, particularly dining closer to sunset helps the liver perform its function of regulating glucose and building up glycogen efficiently. Exercises: This includes regular walks for 30 minutes for five days a week and engaging in weekend activities with family such as gardening, cooking, cleaning up, washing, etc. Fun filled activities through games with family and friends are very good stress busters. Positive attitude: Stress is inevitable. In life things do not always happen the way we want. To accept circumstances as they are, is a better way to get clarity and reduce unwarranted stress. It is the way in which one deals with a situation that makes the difference. Stress brings about cortisol and catecholamines to increase blood sugar whereas a positive way of looking at every situation releases dopamine which brings joy. Mindful movements such as Tai chi and Yoga help to look at life in a more positive way.   In my personal experience, I have recommended having dinner closer to sunset and manage nutrition through low carbohydrates, adequate protein and fat to my friends and family who have Type II diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism. This change in lifestyle has helped them reduce drug dosage and maintain normal sugar levels by just changing their diet alone.   An informal verbal consent was sought and a few of our residents gladly agreed to give their statements on community living adding quality to their rhythm of life and thereby helping them keep diabetes under check. They have expressed their well-being in spite of being diabetic and they attribute that to diet, exercise and rhythmic routines which they could follow in the communities.   Mr Balasubramanian from Serene Adinath by Columbia Pacific has been a diabetic for 30 years and says that his blood sugar levels were high before joining the community. Because of regular exercise suggested by the physiotherapist at the community and by following elder-friendly balanced nutrition, his sugar levels are now within normal limits.   Mr TS Swaminathan from Serene Adinath by Columbia Pacific was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years back. He claims his blood sugar is being well maintained with optimum dosage of drugs, along with following a rhythm in diet and activity at the community   Mr Dwaraki from Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific has been living with diabetes for 7 years.  He says that it can be managed well with strict diet without sugar and fried foods, an hour-long morning walks daily, 40 minutes of exercise and 30 minutes of pranayama. Keeping busy with other useful activities and avoiding stress is the mantra, he says.   Mrs Rita from Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific is 67 and she was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years back. She consults her dietician regularly and says that one never really has to give up on anything that one likes to eat. One just has to make sure to balance the intake.   Prevention and care Health education to spread awareness about lifestyle changes must start at the school level and importance should be given to physical education as well. This will prevent the risk of someone becoming diabetic or becoming obese.   Periodic health screening can be made mandatory among young working adults for early diagnosis of diabetes which can be managed and even reversed if known at an early stage.   Conclusion Living life more consciously is the need of the hour to prevent lifestyle diseases. Eating with awareness and expending energy consciously will help lower the incidence of diabetes mellitus.

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