India is a rapidly changing and diverse country. Culturally, the big Indian joint family has undergone a transition in a way that people are much open to giving each other their own due space while still living a happy life, says Tara Singh Vachani, MD & CEO of Antara, who has come across a unique idea of creating a separate space for active senior people for whom age is just a number. Tara Singh Vachani is a daughter of Analjit Singh, founder and chairman, Max India.
Tara has researched this concept for over three years and has travelled the world over to gather knowledge on best industry practices and create a milestone in the living conditions of India’s seniors. The senior living sector in India is at the cusp of an epic start, with nearly 110 million seniors, almost equal to entire populations of some countries. In an exclusive interaction with Newsd, Tara sheds light on various aspects of this concept. Here’s what she has to say:
Q. Tell us something about this unique idea you have come across?
Antara Senior Living is a beautifully crafted full-service residential community for those who believe age is just a number. Life, as we get older, is a time for renewal and reflection, a time to reconnect with ourselves and forge new bonds within a safe, inspiring and well-managed environment. It is a time that is filled with hope and energy coupled with the aspiration of less worry and a better quality of life. The vision of creating the first such community in India gave direction, shape, and identity to Antara.
Q. In a country which is popular for joint family culture, why did you feel the need for a separate senior living society?
India, as we see, is a rapidly changing and diverse country. Culturally, the big Indian joint family has undergone a transition in a way that people are much open to give each other their own due space while still living a happy life. Antara Senior Living was launched after thorough research and groundwork done in various countries in the Asia-Pacific Region and the United States of America for over three years.
We benchmark ourselves with the best-in-class communities across the globe and through our numerous interactions in the past months and we have realized that the target audience in India is equally evolved and progressive as compared to any other country. There are a growing acceptance and demand of such a concept in India.
Q. How did you get inspired for this unique idea or what made you go for this concept?
In our initial research on the concept of Senior Living conducted in 2010, the Indian market gave us interesting insights. 3 out of every 10 seniors were living alone in India. It was also observed that 80% seniors are concerned about break-ins & stealing. More than 80% seniors seek to sustain their current lifestyle or enhance it as they do not wish to “retire” and more than 75% seniors want to socialize, stay active and follow new recreational pursuits. 90% of the surveyed seniors expressed the need to have a home out of the city which is secure, peaceful & well-facilitated.
We asked seniors if they had started thinking about their future and they realized they hadn’t. We also realized that people hadn’t really thought of their retirement and the problems that may come post it.
We also found some people who were clear and had thought about these issues but they were struggling to find a solution for the same. They had the funds but they didn’t have the facilities to overcome the daily problems. Our research indicated that there are enough seniors within the strata of 110 million seniors who exist today, who prioritize their health and happiness over anything.
Hence we derived at our target audience to be called as progressive seniors. We used the west as a benchmark as we realized that no such product or service existed in India. At macro or even micro level, there was no such continuous care facility for this demography. There were an endless number of products claiming to offer a world class facility but what would have made difference was a facility that could offer an active lifestyle in addition to the bouquet of essential life care facilities. It was then we decided to get into developing a continuous care senior living community which aimed at providing a comprehensive lifestyle offering that takes care of everything.
Q. Don’t you think the senior citizen will feel cornered here?
Our aim is to deliver the community as we have envisioned a happy place for our residents. The entire ecosystem is built around offering our residents a safe, healthy, active and engaged lifestyle. We realize that the few things that concern our seniors today are – safety, security, health and wellness and the company of like-minded people.
Antara Dehradun addresses all these concerns and more with its concept of providing a holistic lifestyle which one has always dreamt of. Be it body and mind wellness, social and emotional wellness, intellectual and occupational wellness, Antara Senior Living provides each and every distinct type of lifestyle which shapes and provides a 360-degree wellness programme for every resident.
Our community is equipped to deal with any issue or any emergency basis our round the clock security system, preventive health check–ups, paramedics team on emergency amongst a host of other amenities which will ensure one has a home away from home. We at Antara are dedicated to ensure our residents live a stress-free and a healthy lifestyle.
Q. What makes your senior living different from other senior living communities?
Holistic senior living communities don’t really exist in India. What merely exist are residential projects for seniors providing maintenance facilities similar to what a regular group housing society would do. There is much need in India to develop communities which go beyond just providing houses and offer its residents a lifestyle which addresses their needs at that stage of life.
It is essential to create a community which allows our seniors to dwell with like-minded people besides taking care of their daily needs. Filling this gap is really important and hence initiatives like Antara Senior Living will bring out the desired changes.
We are clearly unique in terms of the research we have done, the design and architecture we are following, the “look-feel-smell-touch of everything we will be creating within the community and last but not the least our inspiration sets us apart from everyone else.
Our communities offer an unprecedented number of high-quality facilities for our residents including clubhouse which will incorporate a gym, pool, dining rooms, bar, auditorium, cinema room, library, activity rooms, badminton court, spa, shops, business center, health center, emergency response and much more.
Our communities offer a very wide range of services including, housekeeping, maintenance, meals, activities & social programs (classes, volunteering, excursions, social events, clubs & societies), health services, bill payments, city shuttle, concierge, travel desk, legal and financial services and much more.
Q. What response are you getting?
We have received encouraging response and queries from people living in Indian Metros and Non-Residents Indians (NRIs) since our launch in 2013. We have also received interest from children who have moved out of India and are concerned about the safety, healthcare, and well-being of their parents. They are looking out for a suitable senior living community, which offers all services required by their parents to lead a quality life amongst like-minded people.
We have been building relationships with our residents for a while because for us that is very important. It is not a sales and marketing team but instead a community development team that engages with each prospective client. Through this process, we get to know our clients family, friends, CA and even their lawyers.
Q. How are Indian senior living communities different from international senior living communities?
As I said before, holistic senior living communities don’t really exist in India. What merely exist are residential projects for seniors providing maintenance facilities similar to what a regular group housing society would do. The scenario in many developed countries is contrary to the scenario in India.
Senior living is a well-established concept in many other countries while in India; it is still at a nascent stage. There is an availability of luxurious abodes where seniors might choose to spend their senior years with a dignified lifestyle. Senior housing is a USD 5 billion industry worldwide. In the USA alone there are over 2,000 senior housing projects with over 500,000 residents.
In the west, the concept is clear and has gained acceptance whereas in India there is a strong necessity of propagating the benefits of a holistic senior living community. There needs to be a clear definition on what qualifies as a senior living community and what doesn’t.