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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

No takers for senior citizen homes?

HYDERABAD: Not too long ago, a niche group of developers gave the real estate sector a fresh concept - Senior Citizen homes. Complete with centralized kitchens, house-keeping staff, doctorambulance-on-call services and sufficient green spaces, these communities were seen springing up one by one, especially on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

While at first look, the idea seemed nothing short of magnificent, it doesn't seem to have picked up - as was assumed - in the city, over time. Though a select few construction firms, specializing in such homes-for-the-elderly maintain that there is still a small yet significant demand for these properties, not many are convinced about the same. And this includes those living in these houses for a while now.

"Our community is free of pollution.The greenery around is peaceful. But there are other concerns - poor medical facilities being one of them," said P S Pant. The retired additional director general of the India Meteorological Department has been living in the Dhyanaprastha Township for senior citizens near Shamirpet for seven years now. "After we moved in, we paid Rs 1 lakh (per family) to the nearest hospital (Oxygen) to ensure cashless treatment in case of an emergency. Recently, the hospital has shut down and we do not know what to do," Pant rued adding how after much trouble the elderly occupants have only now got a resident doctor.

But, another significant gap is the lack of "young people" around in such residential communities."Over time, I have come to realize that old people should not be isolated. They tend to get lonely. Their conversations largely revolve around health issues and that's depressing. If we had children playing in the garden, instead, it would be more satisfying," Pant confessed.

Builders have a different take. Insisting on these communities being "essential for society", they claim that a large section of senior citizens today crave for "independent living". "A lot them want to stay by themselves these days. If there is a quality support system in place to meet their basic requirements - food, healthcare etc - they are only too happy to live in such communities," said P Viswanathan, managing director of Serene Senior Living Pvt Ltd. The firm that has operations across Chennai, Coimbatore, Puducherry - and is entering markets like Bangalore soon - had launched a similar project in Hyderabad a few years ago. It subsequently had to call it quits owing to poor sales. But Viswanathan maintains that it wasn't for the lack of demand. "While I am not too familiar with the Hyderabad market, I was told that our problem was the location - slightly removed from the city . But having said that we are sure to return to the city as soon as possible. There are a lot of people who have expressed interest in our venture," he added.

Similarly, G Ravi Kumar, director of Saket - one of the first firms to design such homes (Saket Paranaam) - too is confident of this segment growing in the future. "Our community, near A S Rao Nagar, has done very well and we are now in the process of launching a new ven ture, on the similar lines, near Kompally," Kumar said.

The fact that Saket's pro jects are integrated with residential projects hous ing younger occupants, per haps, is the key to their success.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/No-takers-for-senior-citizen-homes/articleshow/49251332.cms 


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