With the realization that we are all living longer in mind, now is the time for American and European senior living companies to begin laying the groundwork for the globalization of senior living. The same BRIC economies that created much of the economic growth over the last thirty years are now coming to terms with their own aging population. What this means is that healthcare and senior care operators from more developed western economies have the same type of opportunity to export their commercial and care models as their industrial counterparts have taken advantage of since the 1980s.
In each of the BRIC economies, a set of factors are coming together to create the opportunity for privately run senior living and home healthcare businesses: aging populations, an emerging middle class, lack of public sector solutions, in a handful of cases government incentives designed to facilitate private investment. These factors are most developed in China, which since 2009 has been aggressively working to develop a senior living industry; however, countries such as Brazil, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines and Thailand are developing early care models that suggest how western care models might be localized for overseas markets. Most interesting are the handful of countries that are also pushing forward on key reforms designed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into senior care.
The opportunity in China is the export opportunity that is most well known: by 2050, the country will have more elderly aged 65 and older than the total population of all ages in the United States. Consequently, China’s largest real estate and insurance companies are moving to build very large Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), many in partnership with American senior care providers. A handful of domestic Chinese companies are working on very innovative models that have the potential to deliver a true middle-class solution in contrast to the higher end projects that have been launched. Western pioneers such as Merrill Gardens from the United States, Aveo from Australia, and Orpea from France are all early into their own strategies in China.