Did you know that 2 out of 3 “seniors” in India own Smartphones, and 3 out of 4 use Internet? That over 75 per cent of them “want to socialise, club, party, exercise, play sports and shop for luxury goods”; and 85 per cent want to live in a multi-cultural society? And, 95 per cent “desire moderate to high stimulation lifestyles?”

Well, before you think our grey-haired elders are a swinging lot who go partying and clubbing, a clarification. This survey of 1900 “seniors” done in two phases by the market research firm AZ Research, includes people in the 51-60 group too! In one phase done on 1000 people, 142 were in the 51-55; 615 in the 56-60; and 243 in the 61-65 age groups. That women have a long way to go before they catch marketer’s attention can be seen from there being only 125 women against 875 men in this phase!

The most important finding of the entire survey done in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata and smaller cities such as Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Dehradun, and Jaipur is that with advancing years physical security, assured quality health care and availability of senior care communities become crucial concerns.

That we are fast moving towards western lifestyle norms can be seen from 3 of every 4 interviewed being open to moving into an assisted senior living community. “Today’s seniors are living alone in homes an environment where they are not satisfied with the current security options and 80 per cent seniors are concerned about break-ins and stealing.”

Over the last decade, crimes against seniors in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata have risen by an alarming 55 per cent, finds this research.

Currently, India has 98 million elderly citizens; this number will grow to 118 million by 2016, by which average life expectancy will cross 70.

“Don’t wish to retire!”

But a breezy and cheerful finding from this survey is that over 80 per cent of those quizzed did not wish to “retire” and wanted to either maintain or improve their present lifestyle. Among the 75 per cent who wanted to club, party, exercise, play sports and indulge in luxury goods, golfing and badminton emerged favourite sports. Walking, running, stretching exercises and yoga were in the reckoning too.

Not surprisingly, while this group likes to shop, pay bills and potter around the garden, the activities least preferred – and which often end up in the woman’s chore-basket – are cooking, washing and ironing clothes, cleaning the house and toilets!

AZ Research MD Sujay Misra said the survey was an “eye opener” on many senior citizens feeling “insecure and neglected”, raising not only issues pertaining to loneliness but also security. There is a crying need today for a comprehensive senior living community where apart from residential facilities the residents required access to restaurants, hospitals, banks and housekeeping support.

Rasheeda.bhagat@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 19, 2013)
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