Monday, 1 December 2014

These homes are coming of age

The Indian real estate market is just beginning to address the need for quality retirement home projects.

Technically speaking, retirement home projects are developed keeping in mind certain age groups, and should ideally be designed with special facilities to make life more comfortable for senior citizens. However, the on-ground interpretation in India has for the longest time been that any project and location that fits a certain budget and requirement is potentially a suitable ‘retirement home’.

In fact, a significant number of second homes purchased by Indians each year are bought to serve as potential retirement homes. The location of second homes is determined largely by how accessible these are from the buyer’s primary home, and the ambiance, comfort and infrastructure they offer.

However, such projects are a residential property segment that must be conceived and developed specifically for the aged. It is actually just beginning to gain traction on the Indian real estate market and we are now seeing such projects coming up in and around cities like Delhi NCR, Pune, Kerala, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai.

Interestingly, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is planning to set up an old age housing society in west Delhi. The DDA plot had been earmarked for the purpose in Master Plan 2021.

Buyers of retirement homes in India today demand assurance of security, good accessibility, appeal quotient in terms of natural surroundings, as well as en suite facilities that actually speak to the needs of elderly residents. They need to be of true value to both to the aged residents as well as their families.

The retirement communities that are cropping up in more and more cities are following the Western blueprint, and are definitely more specialized and thoughtfully-planned undertakings.

Obviously, a residential complex that caters to the needs of the elderly must rise above commonly available facilities and amenities. It must have attended lifts and escalators, wheelchair ramps and hand railings, bathrooms equipped with specially designed fittings that provide safety and ease of operation, and clubhouses with entertainment facilities that keep the physical limitation of the elderly in mind (such as more indoor games and sit-back entertainment systems).

Other recreational facilities of such projects include low depth swimming pools with vigilant lifeguards, medical facilities such as fully-staffed emergency rooms, and ambulances and paramedical staff on call to facilitate speedy medical care at a larger hospital.

Importantly, retirement home projects need to be developed on the ‘everything within walking distance’ format. Transport must be available round-the clock and the project administration must also take the initiative of arranging regular community outings, picnics, sightseeing tours, etc.

Individual dwelling units in projects aimed squarely at senior citizens need to be equipped with electronic alarm systems that can be used instantly to call for help in case of sudden distress, says a senior homes specialist.

This is obviously a rather big list of requirements, and not all of the retirement home projects that are now seen dotting the Indian real estate landscape are fully delivering on these. As developers acquire better understanding of the needs of retirement homes as a specific segment with its very specific requirements, the products they come up with will doubtlessly get more sophisticated.

HT Estates, Nov 29, 2014, Page 07

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