A second home for global senior citizens in Sri Lanka

A Consortium of German and Sri Lankan entrepreneurs has identified Sri Lanka as an ideal long stay hub for senior citizens mainly from the western world, who wish to escape harsh winters and enjoy year-round mild tropical climate with fresh air and clean UV-radiation.

This consortium has also taken into consideration the reality that living in a region with salubrious climatic conditions which Sri Lanka has on offer could be a preventive mode and a curative therapy for several typical illnesses attendant upon advanced age.

Final stages

The construction work on an innovative home project for seniors, tailor-made for the age group 65 years and above, launched by German-Sri Lankan Project Management Consortium in Nattandiya, is in its final stages now.

The basic infrastructure is in place with 10 cabanas, a huge tropical garden, a 25-metre swimming pool, an indoor stadium for badminton and table tennis and a restaurant that snugly nestles right in the middle of a 2.5 acre block of land surrounded by paddy fields, Consortium’s Chairman Dr. Dietmar Doering said.

This German–Sri Lanka Consortium with long years of experience in the hospitality sector behind it, is now expanding its portfolio with their first near-completed Senior Residences. Since food is one of the most important factors, especially for elderly people and those with special needs, Consortium’s Chairman Dr. Doering has recruited a qualified food nutritionist from Germany, Thore Bade.

Fulfilling a pressing need

Dr. Doering explained that the idea of starting , a Residence Scheme in Sri Lanka, for Seniors from Germany in particular and those from the West in general is an outcome of his personal knowledge of the situation that a large majority of seniors in European countries are placed in.

“For example, at present, a sizable segment of Germany’s population - over 20 million, is above 65 years of age and many of them have to depend on the services of care homes in Germany due to their inability to look after themselves. Besides, many seniors from the West, domiciled in Sri Lanka, will find this residence scheme a blessing,” observed Dr. Doering.

German nursing care institutions have become a butt of criticism of the country’s senior citizens for being understaffed and too expensive.

The average costs per month for a German senior in a care home in Germany adds up to around 3.000 Euros which in SL currency is about Rs. 520,000, a cost too high for the average German citizen to afford.

Higher life expectancy

“Not only Germany, the entire western world, Europe in particular, experienced over the past two to three decades, an exceptional increase in life expectancy leading to a marked growth in the segment of their senior citizens.

This ever growing number of senior citizens necessitates a proportionate increase in the number of care homes and also an expansion of other old age-related services,” Dr. Doering said.

Life expectancy

It is a well-established fact, he said, that a healthy diet is a significant factor contributing to the increase in life expectancy. In Japan, for example, average life expectancy has increased to 93 years due to a healthy diet which is close to the classical Mediterranean diet.

This includes a lot of fish and seafood as well as plant-based food, less milk-products and rarely red meat, also a lot of olive oil as the main provider of fat and many fresh herbs and spices.

This is basically a diet with high value protein, high value fat, little sugar and fresh ingredients.

Apart from the food, the Mediterranean way of life too is really healthy. People derive much satisfaction from eating; they enjoy eating in company. They have regular times for resting and daily recreation. Work is less stressful.

Diet

According to Dr. Doering, people in Sri Lanka too follow a similar diet and a lifestyle.

Europeans too would enjoy life in a greater measure if they could adopt a similar diet and a lifestyle.

Sri Lanka’s typical rice and curry form of diet can be recommended as a healthy diet to Europeans being here for long periods.

Sri Lanka with its scenic beauty, a favourable climate and friendly people, makes an ideal hub for pensioners from Europe and other countries for long stays, which could become a ground reality soon thanks to relaxed immigration laws designed to attract more foreigners to spend their holidays in Sri Lanka, Dr. Doering said.

“Sri Lanka’s relatively low living costs offer a substantial monetary advantage for foreign pensioners, who are used to spending over Rs. 500,000 per month for staying in an elders’ care home with limited choices for using their leisure,” Dr. Doering pointed out.

“Though a healthy lifestyle is high on every country’s health care agenda, the food producing industries in most countries do not cater to the imperatives of such an agenda,” he said.

“It has become a normal thing for them to use multiple additives and food preservatives which while reducing the nutritive value, invariably produce harmful effects on the human body rather than improving the health,” Doering said.

Sri Lanka for centuries has been maintaining a very healthy culinary tradition. A variety of vegetables and fruits forms part of the Sri Lankan daily diet, he observed.

Microwaves

“Controversial microwaves are not used much in Sri Lanka which makes another vital point for pensioners in Europe to select Sri Lanka as their right choice, since your are what you eat – as the saying in German, DU bist was Du isst goes.” Dr. Doering observed that Sri Lanka is slow in exploring new and more revenue-generating segments of tourism.

“Given that most general tourism strategies here are focused on short stays, from seven to 21 days on an average, the concept of promoting Sri Lanka for affluent EU pensioners should be a quite welcome proposition for the tourism authorities in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Doering pointed out.

Medical centre

Asked as to when the Consortium proposed to commission its ambitious residence scheme for seniors in Nattandiya, Dr. Doering said, “The first batch of 45 senior citizens – all from Germany will take up residence in the Nattandiya ‘Senioren Residence’ in July next year.

Some 67-strong qualified local staff will be placed at the beck and call of the guests while three staff members from Germany will be there to handle the coordination and operational logistics.”

“Apart from a fully equipped medical centre with Sri Lankan medical consultants on call duty round the clock, there will be a physiotherapy clinic manned by physiotherapists trained in the traditional ayurveda therapy developed over several thousands of years.

Of course, there are many other items on our agenda to make our foreign guests feel that Sri Lanka is truly their second home,” added Dr. Doering. 


The swimming pool  

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