Senior Living Developments: Demographic Changes, Cultural Shifts?

In Thailand or in Asia for that matter, it is not “table talk” to bring-up the discussion of retirement and especially the cold hard truths associated to old age. It is often viewed as an immense sign of disrespect, to even contemplate sending elderly family members to retirement communities or nursing homes. Despite this deep cultural aversion, demographic and social changes, may inevitable require Thailand to remodel its perception and attitude towards senior living communities.

Thailand’s demographics are dramatically shifting, with 20% of its population forecasted to be over the age of 60 by 2022; this number will skyrocket further, to a total of 30% by 2035. Effectively making Thailand the first developing country to become a hyper aged society.

Changing demographics of Thailand, will result in an increasing demand for residences catering to “Retirees and Seniors”.

This societal change is creating an imminent need for support services and facilities catered to an increasingly elderly population. Creating for perhaps the first time, demand from an entirely new market segment, “Seniors and the Elderly”.

So, if these demographic and societal changes are public knowledge, why haven’t the leading Thai residential developers acted on this huge demographic shift?

– Firstly, because Thailand embraces a culture of youthfulness and selling to the elderly isn’t currently perceived as exciting and “PR Friendly”. Most developers, prefer to be associated as trendy and hipster brands, catered towards young working professionals or the affluent middle-aged.

– On a practical level, senior living communities require a unique “support system”, that goes beyond “old-age friendly” building specifications. Retirement and elderly residences require support services such as care-givers, nursing and medical support.
This has created a new development and commercial opportunity, with its own unique challenges for Thailand’s developers. As the proverbial ripple becomes a wave, the country’s real estate industry is showing signs of exciting ventures ahead!

Leading residential developers are strategically partnering with big names in the health care industry. Some notable partnerships include luxury-developer Sansiri announcing a joint venture with Japanese Tokyu and Samitivej Hospital to develop a wellness project. Established Bumrungrad Hospital is also venturing in this niche segment, partnering with M.K. Real Estate to develop a healthcare center. The growth of this market segment is promising a new wave of hybrid developments that combine residential, health care and even hospitality components.

This could transform Thailand’s real estate market, creating a new type of commercial opportunity for developers. Interestingly, Thailand with its comfortable and relative low-cost lifestyle, already benefits from a unique and desirable appeal as a retirement friendly destination. With many international buyers most notably from Europe, choosing the country to retire and spend their senior years.

Thailand’s changing demographics, should be viewed with a positive outlook. Hybrid developments catered to seniors, could generate a combination of local and international demand; reinforcing the country’s appeal as a senior-friendly and hospitable retirement destination. In effect, these unique residences catering to retirees and the elderly, could establish the country as a leading regional hub in “Senior Living Solutions”!

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