Government think tank, NITI Aayog, in its latest position paper, 'Senior Care Reforms in India: Reimagining the Senior Care Paradigm', has called for developing a landscape of senior care services by introducing reverse mortgage mechanism to increase liquidity for seniors, mandatory savings plans, and tax and GST reforms on senior care products.

The paper says specific actions required to ensure financial empowerment and inclusion include reskilling the elderly population, increasing coverage of public funds and infrastructure, and mandatory savings plans for the affording segment.

The 119-page position paper calls for filling up the gaps and challenges in the current senior care ecosystem. It also strives to push the frontiers of senior care by recognising the evolving medical and non-medical needs of seniors.

The number of people over 60 years of age has been rising rapidly across the world. India, too, is seeing exponential growth in the number and proportion of elderly people, coupled with a decreasing fertility rate (less than 2.0) and increasing life expectancy (more than 70 years). The elderly in India currently comprise a little over 10% of the population, translating to about 104 million, and is projected to reach 19.5% of the total population by 2050, according to the report.

“The release of this report is one of the stepping stones toward India’s commitment to achieve the goal of Viksit Bharat @2047. It is important to extensively prioritise the application of technology and Artificial Intelligence for senior care. It is time to start thinking about the special dimensions of senior care in addition to the medical and social dimensions," says NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Suman Bery.

The paper says specific actions required to ensure financial empowerment and inclusion include reskilling the elderly population, increasing coverage of public funds and infrastructure, and mandatory savings plans for the affording segment. "Reverse Mortgage mechanism to increase liquidity for seniors, and tax and GST reforms on senior care products to increase the ease of adoption and safeguard the elderly population from the financial burden."

It also calls for encouraging the private sector to design targeted and comprehensive geriatric health insurance products, and that increasing liquidity and capital allocation to the senior care industry will help in addressing the needs of the affording segment. "Protection for the elderly from financial fraud by increasing awareness and literacy needs to be ensured."

The Niti Aayog paper also calls for a robust digital inclusion ecosystem improving access to digital devices for seniors, increasing digital literacy, and harnessing the potential of modern technology like AI, IoT, big data and machine learning.

Notably, by 2050, one in every four Indians will be a senior citizen. In absolute numbers, it will be equal to the population of the USA for the industry in the form of a “Silver Economy”. The senior care industry in India is about USD 7 billion and it is expected to grow rapidly, as per the paper.

It has called for private sector synergies through Public Private Partnership (PPP) models and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to build elder care homes and medical mobile units. "The possibility of integrated insurance for seniors, including clinical and non-clinical needs, can be explored."

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