The idea of checking into a retirement village, albeit an upmarket one, may be taking root among affluent Asians but many still prefer to stay at home with family members. While some older people might feel embarrassed about staying in a retirement village, others prefer to rely on domestic helpers in their old age given that labour costs still relatively affordable in Asia.
The lacklustre response to Tanner Hill, Hong Kong’s first premium housing for retirees, which was launched in December 2015 is a case in point. Despite being decked out with facilities such as a gymnasium, a mini theatre, day care and rehabilitation centres as well as Chinese and Western medical clinics, only 78 out of 588 apartments have been taken up.
There is also the longstanding stigma of retirement homes in some Asian countries. John Chong, Executive Director of Total Investment, the firm behind Green Acres, tells the New Straits Times that in Malaysia “many old folks’ homes or nursing homes are of very poor quality. This has resulted in a negative perception of such places and seniors do not wish to move into them”.
Goh explains that subtle adjustments can help to improve the appeal of a new generation of senior living developments. “For instance, Asian retirees might want a larger space for family members to be able to stay over when they visit,” she says.
In addition, facilities need to be able to cater for a wide range of medical or age related needs. “Seniors have changing needs,” says Goh. “They may be very healthy and active in their 60s but things could change rapidly when they hit their 70s and 80s. Retirement homes and villages need to be able to increase the level of care and extent of services whether it’s housekeeping, meals or nursing.”
Indeed in the developing market for senior living across in Asia, it’s the details that will make the difference – and these will change from country to country.
As Goh concludes: “Luxury retirement villages need to tailor their offering according to where demand is being driven from.”