The other evening I was delighted to receive a brilliantly produced brochure from Antara Senior Living. I had no clue as to what Senior Living is or for that matter why they chose me when I am just 50 but feel like 15. But that is a debate for another day.
It wasn't the brochure alone that set me thinking: what really provoked thought was the fact that India is finally coming to terms with ageing and longevity as also, some would cruelly say, families that don't feel the guilt in not looking after the old in their homes. For years, old-age homes have been around. The sadder versions are to be found in Vrindavan. There is equally a lot of abuse of the old in our society: something I find reprehensible. Equally, more and more people are becoming mobile which means there is no one permanent residence for most young people.
Many years ago, whilst researching a product category I stumbled upon two rather startling facts: more and more old people between the ages of 60 and 80 are on Skype in India: talking to their children and grandchildren all across the world. The second, that more and more old people are now spending on themselves which means the notion of becoming abstainers after a certain age has vanished. In many ways we are inching towards the West like never before. Luxury cruising statistics will tell you there are more old people (72% above 65) cruising than young ones. The notion of savings and leaving behind monies for the next generation as a notion has vanished.
But in all of this, there is a sociological layering. I am 50, going to be 51. And my parents and I live together. My parents were living in Calcutta and I was living in Delhi. Both alone. So many years ago I moved them to Delhi and everyone of my friends thought I was bringing my wild bachelor days to an end. But that is not the way it's been or I've ever thought. For me, my parents are a huge support system and no I don't need them for selfish reasons to care for a bawling child.
The moot point in all of this is a support system, which is what comes across in Antara. It is not about ageing in a home. It is about starting a second innings in a cricket match, which you know will end in a draw so you might as well enjoy it. The brochure talks about luxury living as it does about the minutiae of care that the old need. It is about creating a paradigm shift in their lives without taking away the lifestyle that was always part of their lives. In many ways, Antara, or products like that will help create a happier older community rather than one that is either cynical or feels unwanted.
Sometimes a brochure tells you of the changing mores of society than anything else. The fact that people create products means they believe in two things: consumers are becoming more receptive and that there is greater affordability. I am still very young to think of any such retirement plan but I guess, the way they've structured life at Antara, I will, in fact never be retiring. It is only when I staretd talking about Antara to many of my older friends, did I realize that many of them had already bought into it. Dehradun will yet again be a trendsetter in busting some more myths about India and what the Indian family is all about.