At present, Thailand is facing an ageing society, with 9.5 million elderly populations. Approximately 8.5 million of the elderly in Thailand are healthy and independent, whereas almost 1 million of them need long term care services. 143,000 of them are bedridden.
Previously, elderly care centers were not desirable places of living among Thai seniors. It used to be the symbol of neglect, a sign that no one cared for them.Recently, however, Thai people’s lifestyles have changed, and nuclear families have become more prevalent than large families. Hence, it has also become more common for seniors to live independently. According to the National Statistical Office of Thailand, almost 900,000 seniors lived alone in 2014, and this trend has increased over the past decade.
Seeing such changes, large corporates have begun to tap into the opportunity in the senior living business. Last month, a listed property firm, Sansiri, partnered with a Japan-based Tokyo corporation and Samitivej hospital to develop the “Wellness Residence” project in Bangkok. By the end of this year, Thonburi Healthcare Group will have opened the first phrase of “Jin Wellbeing County”, Thailand’s first comprehensive residential complex offering healthcare services and lifestyle facilities for retirees and their families in Bangkok and vicinity. In Phuket, four leading developers, Nye Estate, L.P.N. Development, Chewathai, and CH. Karnchang, plan to launch “Kamala Senior Living”, a THB 3.5 billion luxury senior living village.
Within the next 3 years, there will be approximately THB 6 billion investment in retirement communities in Thailand.
Why are large corporates interested in retirement communities?
Firstly, the number of Thai seniors will reach 17 million (almost double the current senior population) within the next 10 years. Secondly, almost half of the young old, Thai seniors aged 60-69 years, are still working and very active. Hence, they would like to have professional preventive care and tailor-made wellness programs. Last but not least, the number of foreign seniors with long stay visas has continued to increase.
What are the opportunities for SME businesses?
- Healthy food and beverages, suitable for Thai seniors: the most common chronic illnesses among Thais are cerebral stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Hence, producing food products that are low fat, low sugar, or less salty can be new business opportunities for SME’s.
- Anti-ageing cosmetics, especially organic skincare and natural make up.
- Furniture aiming to facilitate mobility and prevent injuries such as adjustable beds, bath chairs, floor lamps, grab bars in bathrooms, or furniture with rounded edges.
- Elderly care services such as in home care service, day care, senior travel agency etc.