Time to build a strong senior care ecosystem in India : Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities.
Today, 65% of the country is below the age of 35, while those above the age of 60 years is only 7.7%. Percentages are misleading – the number of seniors today is 104 million, about the population of Australia multiplied by four! By 2050 India will be home to over 300 million citizens above the age of 60 years.
ETHealthWorld October 01, 2020, 09:45 IST
Image used for Representative purposes
Image used for Representative purposes
by Mohit Nirula, CEO, Columbia Pacific Communities
In a country where the politicians and the marketers, the policy makers and the product innovators are fixated on the millennial generation – there is a demographic that continues to be ignored – a constantly growing constituency with voting power equal to the millennials and a spending capability of several times more – our senior citizens.
Today, 65% of the country is below the age of 35, while those above the age of 60 years is only 7.7%. Percentages are misleading – the number of seniors today is 104 million, about the population of Australia multiplied by four!
More relevant, from the point of view of planning for the future, this number is expected to triple in the next 30 years. By 2050 India will be home to over 300 million citizens above the age of 60 years.
Our culture is one where children are expected to take the responsibility of their parents in their golden years. However, the growth of nuclear families, migration of youth from villages to cities, from home state to state of work and even to other countries has meant that seniors are increasingly having to fend for themselves in their old age.
With this tectonic shift in demographics, it is important that policy makers start creating an ecosystem that will support and empower this demographic in the years to come.
Financial security through innovative investment schemes that allow seniors to stay ahead of the inflation curve, tax structures that recognise their dependence on fixed incomes, reverse mortgage schemes that allow them to leverage their assets for their own well-being during their life time are essential improvements that will make life easier and more independent for seniors.
Health care costs have only been increasing over the past years. With growing life expectancy, the need for health care facilities and corpus that needs to be set aside to provide for medical needs will also increase. A three-fold increase in the elderly population will have a commensurate increase in the need for healthcare support. This requires policy makers to provide for accessible and affordable healthcare while simultaneously enabling the insurance sector with tax incentives and subsidies that enable them to bring affordable products that address the needs of the seniors.
Loneliness is the greatest accelerator of ageing and age related ailments. The best antidote is for seniors to practice positive ageing – an approach to life that encourages them to enjoy an active and positive social environment, allows them to remain physically fit, mentally alert and intellectually stimulated and hence, healthier for longer. Creation of senior living communities that support such an environment while fulfilling all the day to day needs of the residents is a solution that has been extremely successful across the world.
More specialised facilities for those requiring higher levels of care, whether physical or related to memory care, will also be required. Incentives and policy support that make patient capital available to the private sector will attract greater investment and hence the availability of these services for our seniors.
Our seniors have given their all in their youth. They have fulfilled their responsibility to their children, their parents, their careers, to society and to the nation. It is only fair and correct that the nation repays this debt to our elders.
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)