Voices Anand Neelakantan Sheila Kumar Neil McCallum Ravi Shankar Gautam Chintamani Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI march 14 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Silver Linings Playbook India’s new-age seniors are spending on themselves and making the most of their second innings, driving the growth of silver economy A senior couple staying at Ashiana Utsav, Lavasa, pose before venturing out to explore the city By Smitha Verma I t’s a hectic workday for Mala Honnatti who has just returned from a 10-day mountaineering expedition in Ladakh. At her hostel in Shoolini University in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, this final year student is busy preparing for the last semester of her master’s in yoga and exploring her future career prospects. Honnatti is indecisive—whether to become a yoga teacher, a corporate trainer or conduct trekking expeditions. “My mind is buzzing with ideas. So many choices and so much to do,” she says. Honnatti may sound like another young person on the cusp of graduation, except that at 67 years, she is talking about her fourth career plunge. Till about two years ago, Prof CT Kurien, an eminent economist with several books to his credit, was leading a retired life in Bengaluru. But his daughters, settled abroad, were uncomfortable about their parents living without any assistance. At their insistence, Kurien and his wife moved to Irene Homes, a retirement home in Ernakulam in Kerala. “So far this has been one of the best decisions we took in recent times,” says the 90-year-old. He spends his day browsing through books at the library and meeting fellow residents. Twice a week, he attends a craft workshop where he makes artificial flowers. “It’s engaging and a new fun activity I learnt at this age,” he says. 50% Senior Indians open to online shopping, says a 2020 Deloitte survey Both Honnatti and Kurien present a growing tribe of seniors who are driving the silver economy pushing , forward an array of services catering to this age group. So it’s no surprise that when the Association of the Senior Living India (ASLI) organised a three-day online conclave in partnership with Unmukt-The Senior Hub, a senior citizens’ platform, the largest turnout was for a session titled ‘Opportunities in the Silver Economy’. The market for the elderly has been buzzing. In November 2019, Tata Sky launched a specially curated television channel ‘Tata Sky Seniors’ with shows to empower seniors in subjects such as financial planning, health and wellness, digital education and relationship management. The services catering to seniors have been brewing for sometime now. The outbreak of Covid-19, however, has put forward an urgency both in demand and supply “The . pandemic posed unprecedented challenges for healthy living among the senior cohort of the country The lockdown . affected them at various levels and senior care has garnered utmost importance,” says Ankur Gupta, co-founder and chairperson, ASLI and joint managing director, Ashiana Housing. According to the India Ageing Report 2017 released by the United Nations Population Fund, the ageing population, currently at 12 crore in the country will reach 30 crore by , 2050. It will account for 20 percent of India’s population. According to a study published in The Lancet in October 2020, India has gained 10 years in life expectancy over the past three decades—from 59.6 years in 1990 to 70.8 years in 2019. The demographic brings with it novel challenges as well as opportunities for services catering exclusively to them. With increased longevity , spending power and shift in mindsets, golden agers form a fast-growing demographic for marketers. Senagers, or the 60-plus seniors, are in many ways like teenagers open to new avenues of consumption. For now, the spotlight is on them, both at the private and government level. In January the Union , Ministry for Health & Family Welfare released the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) Wave-1. It is a first-of-itskind full-scale national survey to provide base for nationaland state-level programmes and policies for the elderly In . October 2020, the ministry launched ‘Decade of Healthy Ageing’, aimed at bringing attention to issues related to the elderly Last year, the . Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment invited an expert group to submit recommendations on how to keep seniors productive. Startups are beginning to look at this demographic beyond the medical and senior living segments. Recruitment firms, dating sites, tech platforms—you name it, they have it. Senior welfare is no longer the family’s responsibil- ity “The pandemic highlighted . gaps especially for seniors who live alone. The importance of preventive and supportive care has emerged. There has also been an increase in demand for home-based services,” says Monimita Sarkar, founder, Unmukt-The Senior Hub. Recently the platform started a , programme where seniors can re-skill their peers and earn in the bargain. In other words, the silver economy or a market catering , to senior citizens’ needs, is inching its way up in India. Breaking Stereotypes Last month, ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan joined a political party The news may have . evoked mixed feelings about the 88-year-old technocrat’s decision to enter public life but for the ‘silvers’ the only point to note was how age shouldn’t be a deciding factor of working life. According to a survey by Antara Senior Living, around 64 percent of seniors, aged 50 and above, want to continue working post-retirement for financial independence, mental peace, and to maintain a “My mind is buzzing with ideas. So many choices and so much to do.” Mala Honnatti, 67, final year master’s student in yoga, Shoolini University, Solan, Himachal Pradesh. She’s exploring her future career prospects, whether to become a yoga teacher, a corporate trainer or conduct trekking expeditions healthy lifestyle. The debate over increasing the retirement age from the norm of 60 years has been an ongoing one for the past few years. “If a person retires at 60 years of age, he is likely to spend the next 30 years in his or her post-retirement life. Planning for retirement funding in the absence of social security is becoming a difficult task especially in the context of decreasing interest regime—from 14 percent in 2014, today bank fixed deposits fetch less than seven percent,” points out Col (retd) A Sridharan, founder of CovaiCare, a chain of retirement communities in Coimbatore, Mysuru, Bengaluru and Puducherry . The issue of prolonged employment has been a continuing discourse with various state governments tweaking the age limit. Nations such as Japan and Singapore have discovered a mechanism of re-employment after retirement, a model now being adopted in India. “The change has started both from employee and 300 million The number of seniors by 2050, according to the United Nations Population Fund employer end,” says AS Krishna, who handles the retirement business vertical at Bajaj Capital, a financial advisory firm. “I can’t imagine not working even for a single day I wish to continue till my . health and motivation permits,” says the 64-year-old from Delhi. Krishna got his role in February through HUM Communities, an age-tech venture dedicated to creating job opportunities for seniors. The initiative was started in 2017 by Ramesh Vij, a 77-yearold technocrat from Delhi, to engage seniors in gainful employment through an online community “Besides money . , the guiding principle for any retiree to join back workforce should be how well he/she is taken to the role and how his/ her time is utilised. Companies need to understand that retirees provide a wealth of experience and they cost less,” says Krishna. In 2019, when HUM did an all-India survey among seniors, 93 percent said they felt discriminated because of their age. “It’s quite unfair when someone who is willing to work and has the capability to excel is not offered a suitable opportunity on the basis of his/her age,” says Kritarth Malhotra, founding member, HUM. He explains how the previous generation of elders (born in the 1930s) had a different perception of retirement with joint families being the norm but the new generation (born in the 1960s) perceive old age as the time to kick-start a second innings. “Most of them are full of zest and are willing to work hard even after retiring to remain financially secure and independent for the rest of their lives,” says Malhotra. The pandemic has worked in favour for HUM Communities, which has grown 10-fold in the past year. “We have engaged over 200 senagers (senior teenagers) with over 180 companies across India,” he adds. The company regularly conducts skilling workshops in online marketing, financial management, nutrition and wellness to empower seniors for the gig economy “Right now all our . courses are online but we intend to take them offline soon,” says Malhotra. Spending money to look good is another trend that’s catching up among the senior citizens. Facelifts, botox treatments, hair weaving are the most common among those over the age of 60. Dr Syed Nazim Hussain, a Delhi-based dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon, sees anywhere between 200 and 300 patients a month looking for different beauty and hair treatments. At his clinic, patients opt for treatment for facial wrinkles, frown lines, crow’s feet. Also popular are derma fillers, mesotherapies, botox, energy-based laser to tighten skin and boost collagen. “The elderly wants to look and feel good. They are paying attention to grooming and beauty What has worked . $7.7 bn The expected size of the senior housing segment by 2030, according to a 2017 PHD Chamber of Commerce report in favour is the rise of noninvasive procedures with less down time,” says Dr Hussain, Founder of Royal Lush clinic. Independent Seniors At 81, V Ramakrishnan leads a busy life. In the last two years, he has learnt how to play snooker, has become a music lover, reads more and is not worried about the daily grind. Ramakrishnan and his wife moved to Ashiana Housing’s senior living development on the outskirts of Chennai after Turn to page 2
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