Indeed, the need to provide more elderly facilities hasn't been lost on entrepreneurs.
Sumer Datta, co-founder of Aamoksha One Eighty, the first private sector company to introduce western-style senior living in India, is setting up resort-style retirement homes in Kodaikanal and Kasauli – southern towns in India which have better weather and less pollution. Visitors to each home will enjoy facilities which include a club house, golf course, bar, a doctor in attendance and a customized diet.
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"We are introducing a complete lifestyle tailored to the needs of the elderly that will give them joy and happiness," said Datta.
India's largest healthcare group, Max India, is building a similar community in the northern city of Dehradun called Antara Senior Living. The company said it will deliver services on the seven dimensions of wellness – social, emotional, spiritual, physical, occupational, intellectual and environmental.
While these homes may add to a growing industry – Jones Lang LaSalle says India has about 20 privately-run, non-charitable senior living projects and 15 more in the offing – analysts say they pander only to the needs of the middle class who can afford the luxury and prices out 75 percent of the poor seniors living in rural areas.
Real change, according to Helpage India's Cherian, can come only through policy changes and social protection for the aged.
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The National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), which offers $5 a month pensions for senior citizens, reaches only 16.5 million of the 50 million seniors that would qualify. Government health insurance schemes cover only 5 percent of India's seniors largely due to a lack of awareness of these schemes. Coverage problems are further compounded by the fact that most seniors do not have any form of identity cards and are thus unable to join such social schemes.
HelpAge is lobbying for discounted land sales for old age homes, universal pensions and health insurance backed by an awareness campaign to help the country's elderly gain access to such benefits.
"The real agent of change can only be the government," says Cherian. But in this case, it seems the main player in the game has gone missing.