Longevity seems to be increasing across the world and the proportion of the world’s population of over 60 years of age is expected to double from about 12% to 22% by 2050. Every country now needs to ensure that their health and social systems are ready for this significant demographic shift.
According to a CII – Senior Care Industry Report India 2018: Igniting Potential in Senior Care Services’ in India, the population of the elderly is expected to grow threefold from 2011 to 300 million in 2050, accounting for 18% of the total population in 2050.
A long lifespan brings with it many more opportunities, not only for older people and their families, but also for societies such as further education, re-employment or the time to pursue a long-lost passion. Yet the extent of these opportunities and contributions depend heavily on one factor: health.
Appropriate elderly care will need greater attention from the public and private sectors. Urbanisation and migration of the younger generation for better career prospects to cities has made proper care, finances and housing for the elderly a challenge in many cases.
As longevity increases, failing health seems to be the norm rather than the exception. This has spawned a whole market of products and services for the elderly – the global elder care services will reach a market valuation of USD 1767 billion reflecting a CAGR of 8.4% by the end of 2025.
In 2007, the Central Government set up a scheme for pensions to the elderly below the poverty line and allocated INR 200 and 500 per month for those over 60 years and 80 years respectively. The Supreme Court has now requested the Government to increase this amount. In addition, the Government is to set up old age homes in each district. To further provide financial security to the elderly, a senior citizens’ saving scheme has been introduced with a maximum limit of INR 15 lakh investment.
The private sector is coming out with senior-friendly living spaces, including assisted living, serviced apartments, food services, and special facilities. Easily accessible medical benefits and entertainment activities are also provided, which have proven to be an attraction for many senior citizens.
Much more can be done, though. Research & development (R&D) for geriatric health should be expanded to examine and manage new diseases prevalent among older populations. Urban infrastructure needs to be senior-friendly with easy walkaways, better security, safe parks, and geriatric wellness centres. Availability of personal care, home management and emergency services must be considered, as more and more people grow older.
With almost 130 million elderly people currently in India, there is a need for planned capacity enhancement and policy support for an industry catering to the older generation. This will require several key sectors of the industry to come together to provide goods and services aimed at a specific population such as healthcare, assisted living, manufacturers of specific products, provision of public goods for differently-abled, travel and tourism, and so on.
CII is already working dedicatedly in this space as it recognizes the importance of nurturing new concepts and products for senior citizens by building a strong relationship between private and public institutions deeply engaged in the sector.
While India does much to leverage its demographic dividend, there is a dire need to create an environment that addresses the needs of the elderly to enable them to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.