In recent times, the silver screen has been graced by the presence of legendary actors who are defying age-old stereotypes and ushering in a cinematic revolution. Bollywood, often known for its obsession with youth, is witnessing a remarkable shift as iconic figures like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Neena Gupta, Anil Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, and others are embracing roles that reflect both style and determination in their senior years. Whether it is Shah Rukh Khan’s gang of friends roaring down the streets in “Jawan,” Amitabh Bachchan’s inspiring mountain trek with companions in “Uunchai,” or Sunny Deol and Salman Khan’s high-octane action sequences, these portrayals resonate deeply with audiences. From thrilling espionage tales to romantic adventures, these iconic actors are influencing the narrative, bringing fresh stories to the fore, and mirroring a societal change in the perception of ageing gracefully.
Behind this shift lies a burgeoning industry – the senior care sector – a thriving and transformative force poised to reshape the way we experience our golden years. With an estimated market size ranging from $10 to $15 billion, senior care has become a dynamic and growing field. It encompasses a wide array of services, including in-home care, online financial services, assisted living facilities, and an array of aids and devices designed to enhance the comfort and convenience of seniors.
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According to a 2010 Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report, India will need around 250,000 senior living homes, while the current supply is roughly 20,000 units. This disparity becomes even more pronounced against the backdrop of increasing life expectancy, a growing burden of diseases, and a shift away from traditional care models based on joint families and communities.
To address these challenges, a robust policy framework, financing mechanisms, expanded care capacity, and an elder welfare ecosystem involving both the public and private sectors are essential to helping seniors lead healthy and fulfilling lives during their golden years.
Moreover, the statistics are compelling; India’s senior population is set to surge from its current 130 million to a staggering 300 million in the next two to three decades. Of these seniors, 17 per cent live alone, 40 per cent grapple with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and vision issues, and there’s a noticeable decline in the number of caregivers available to assist the elderly.
Post-pandemic shifts in spending patterns among seniors further emphasize the urgency of addressing their evolving needs. More than ever, there is a focus on leisure and wellness, with spending on non-prescription healthcare estimated to reach around Rs 40,000 crore by FY25.
The past few years have witnessed a surge of new entrants exploring the senior care sector, introducing various models and services. Established players are deepening their presence through expanding and diversifying their offerings. Technology-driven models are emerging, offering various services like remote care, emergency assistance, concierge services, and companionship. Innovative approaches around second-career opportunities, mental wellness, and community-building for seniors have also gained traction.
In response to these evolving needs, government initiatives and collaborations are bringing additional support to the sector. For instance, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has established committees to invigorate the sector. Initiatives like the Elder Helpline, the second-career employment portal (SACRED), and the SAGE program to encourage innovation in the sector have been launched. Niti Aayog is also working on a white paper to further develop this sector.
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The Association for Senior Living (ASLI), with over 70 member organizations, plays a pivotal role in shaping and advancing the senior care sector. Their annual study tours and knowledge sessions with esteemed speakers foster comprehensive learning. ASLI’s strong emphasis on advocacy and high standards and its unique position as the sole senior care forum make it an ideal platform for collaborative efforts among diverse organizations.
In addition to these initiatives, several insurance companies have begun designing products to meet the needs of the growing senior population. Some products have already been introduced, while others are under consideration.
Investors increasingly show interest in the sector, with funding for various ventures already underway. In summary, this sector is witnessing growth across multiple fronts, promising a comprehensive care ecosystem for seniors to meet their unique needs and desires in the near future.
Thus, the senior care sector is witnessing growth across multiple fronts, promising a comprehensive care ecosystem that caters to the unique needs and desires of our seniors. This transformation underscores the importance of ensuring our elders age gracefully and with the dignity they deserve.
The author is the chairman-elect of the Association of Senior Living India (ASLI).