There are a whole lot of gadgets to fight pain, address mobility issues and live a better life. They come at various price points but their perceived value is pretty high
“When I needed an air mattress for my father some years ago, it was so hard to find. But I love the fact that today you have everything from a long-handled toenail clipper, to a nail cutter with a magnifying glass, to a pill organizer and a wheelchair that allows you to climb stairs–just all that a senior may require and more at the click of a mouse,” says Dr Pragya Bansal, a regular shopper for senior care products for her octogenarian parents. Another buyer says the Saregama Carvaan he bought for his 75-year-old mother a year ago was the perfect gift for her as she is very fond of old Hindi music.
Life can actually begin at 60 and it’s all in your hands. You need to make appropriate changes and not be ashamed or embarrassed or lazy about your condition. The first step is to acknowledge that with age, you may need certain lifestyle adjustments. Invest in appropriate equipment like a massager machine if you have regular pain in the calf muscles or mobility aids, bathroom aids, and medical equipment.
Ankur Gupta, Joint Managing Director, Ashiana Housing Ltd, who has experience dealing with seniors in his retirement community, says today there are many products available in the Indian market designed especially for senior care and they are not even that expensive. But there are two main issues. “Awareness about these products is inadequate. Moreover, many seniors want to live with pain and resist change–‘we don’t need to’ is an attitude some have and they are just so used to doing particular things in a particular way. For instance, they may find it hard to bend down to switch on the light, but will never think about using a stick to do the job. Or put a grab rail in the toilet so that they don’t have difficulties getting up from the seat every single day. It’s painful, but they just don’t do anything about it. Their children are bringing about change, however.”
Where and what to buy
You can now order many of these products on e-commerce portals such as seniority.in, Dr Trust, Tata 1 mg, amazon, elderease, lifree and elder living. You may also find them at offline pharmacies or geriatric clinics.
Says Tapan Mishra, Founder, Seniority: “Fifty per cent of our bestselling products include assistive-care devices, and the other 50 per cent are about leisure and lifestyle. I would say post-retirement is perhaps the best age to enjoy leisure activities. To make the most of this time, we have everything from stitch kits, gardening tools, and a kitchen clever cutter. Even utilitarian items such as pill organisers have got great feedback from our customers. There is a manual option and then there are those which ring off an alarm when it’s medicine time and can be integrated with your mobile phone too. And it is not just limited to medicine but drinking water too. There are alarm clocks with huge displays and a projection feature on the wall so you don’t have to get up and switch on the lights in the dark to look at the time.”
Mobility aids such as walkers and rollators, walking sticks and crutches, and wheelchairs are much in demand and today there are many kinds of aids available at different price points. Some are automatic, others are manual. There are sophisticated variants like a standing wheelchair (Rs 3.5-4 lakh) which helps you stand up so you can reach up to something that’s on the top shelf. Then there are stair-lift wheelchairs that allow you to go from one floor to another. The contraption attaches itself to the staircase and helps you switch levels. Some other products help you climb stairs and are called climbing wheelchairs.
Bhubaneswar-based Priyadarshi Nanu Pany recently gifted an Acorn Stairlift Chair to his mother on her birthday. “Though I’d want it to be a lie, there is no denying our parents are ageing. And we need to accept it and act accordingly. Our house is an old one, built without the engineering to accommodate a lift.
It has four stairs and I have promised her that each birthday I would get her one stairlift. One can order this online with a video of the staircase and voila. It took three days to deliver and just three hours to implement this Stair lift. The ease it offered my mother was honestly, priceless.”
Freedom from dependency
Dependency is an added curse in old age. When elderly folks experience freedom from dependency, it is then that they truly start living. Prateek Verma, Head of ePharmacy at Tata 1mg, says, “Based on our consumer studies, it’s very clear that elderly want freedom from dependency. They buy products that can free them from the clutches of old age misery. They buy products like adult diapers and walking sticks, and call for services like regular health check-ups and home-delivery of medicines. They don’t want to be dependent on their caregivers for anything.”
Bathrooms and washrooms can seem like dangerous places for seniors due to increased likelihood of falls and mobility issues. A few alterations and upgrades can make these areas safe and easily accessible. Bathroom accessories that include different types of commodes, grab bars and shower chairs can make it a comfortable place for seniors.
A few must-haves in every senior home, says Ashiana Housing’s Gupta, are grab rails, anti-skid tiles that can reduce falls, switches at proper heights, emergency alarm, and night lamp-both for functional usage and psychological comfort. He says it is a bit difficult to retrofit a house by any end user but for them to build it at the level of design as part of a community such as creating ramps to make it wheelchair-friendly, easily raises the cost by Rs 30 a square foot. At the design level, everything needs to be looked at-even small things like getting the right height on your wardrobe is critical. Stacking your pants way too low or high would make you uncomfortable.
Health & fitness products
Post pandemic, every household must stock certain products such as glucometers, BP apparatus and oximeters. With age, the need for physio and ortho products rises due to joint pains, body pains etc. The numerous products under this category offer body support and after surgery care products, sub-categorised as compression support, you have exercise and fitness gear, support splints and traction kits.
Dr V Srinivas, a geriatrician and Founder Director, Geri Care, says, “In my practice, it’s a pleasant surprise to note that the elderly of both genders are keen to start using many such appliances, including some gym equipment. With a little focused teaching by a geriatrician or a physiotherapist, they are quite comfortable to use them. Several scientific studies clearly show the benefit of weight training and regular exercises even when the user is very old (90 years-plus). The fairly widespread use of social media by the elderly and regular input from their children make it easy for us geriatricians to guide them on these topics without much difficulty.”
What youth can do
Many seniors are tech-savvy today and can buy products online on their own. But e-commerce websites share that many of buyers of senior-care products are actually caregivers, not end-customers. Says Seniority’s Mishra, “There are only so many parker pens and shawls that you can gift your elderly, but senior-specific products are far more creative and useful gifts for parents. Many of our buyers are children who give their parents a new product launched on our site on every birthday.”
Post pandemic, as we approach the World Elderly Day on October 1, if there is one thing the youth need to do for elders, it is to give them time and attention and address their problem of loneliness. But the biggest help is to help them help themselves. Let them be independent.
After all, life does not stop at 60. It can actually start at 60 because your mind is still racing, responsibilities are dispensed with and there is no dearth of time. Earlier in your working life, if you just did the garden that would only take two or three hours a day. But now you can live your dreams- allow the golfer, the chef and the gardening enthusiast in you to come out and express itself in full glory.
Table: Indicative price list of key products in the senior care market
|KosmoCare – Shower Chair/Bench||2,256-10,919|
|Bedside assistance||Mobilita-Seat Lift/Back Rest||3,540-5,730|
|Hearing Aids||Smart Care||790-5,799|
|Hot & cold pads||1,795-2,130|
Credit: TechSci Research