If you study any statistics about population and age groups, you will recognize that similar tendencies can be found all over the world:
- Life expectancy is on the rise, for e.g. in the last decade the average life span for a male/female citizen of India increased from 62,3/63,9 years to 67,3/69,6 years now.
- Less children are born compared to 1 or 2 generations earlier, which means more smaller families.
- More parents hesitate to stay with their children and vice versa.
Let’s have a look at a typical couple in their early fifties, having 2 kids in their twenties. Both spouses are working as full time employees; even if they have the time to care for their ailing parents, they may not have the skills. If you think of 10 years down the line, the same couple will be in their 60’s maybe facing their own age problems, while looking after their parents in their 80’s! From my own experience working in an elderly home 40 years ago, I know it is a 24/7 challenge and it can lead easily, on physical and emotional level, to a burn-out.
Growing up in Germany I remember that until the late 1980’s, senior citizens homes were located in green surroundings away from the city. In fact they were designed similar to a hospital with endless corridors, 1 to 4 bed rooms having an attached bath room and built-in wardrobes. Not to mention the canteen food …
This created bad publicity and the huge fear of feeling locked far away in a perfectly organized yet totally sterile elderly home. I agree, those homes took care of physical needs of humans, yet nothing for the emptiness of the soul and no challenge for the spirit. No wonder that the mortality rate was 6-9 months after admission!
As human beings live longer and with a fast aging population, there will be a huge demand for senior suitable residences in India in the near future:
- Yes,- we need more professional help and care, like therapists, nurses and doctors, due to our prolonged life expectancy. There is a ray of hope, that is, in India there’s a huge human capital, in some cases they may be less qualified, but in the end it needs a heart and not a diploma for becoming a care assistant.
- And yes,- we definitely want the built environment designed to the seniors’ needs and conveniences.
- But no,- it is not desirable that elderly homes become purely revenue generating business model.
(The next post will be about the alternatives)