'Care For Those Who Once Cared for Us' - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
Common Sense Living India

'Care For Those Who Once Cared for Us'

Entrepreneurship
Retirement
Apr 23, 2016

'Care For Those Who Once Cared for Us' 

Have you been worried about leaving your parents alone? Has the guilt of being immersed in work, and not spending time with them in their golden years, played on your mind?

Aging is challenging...for both parents and children.

Indians once lived in joint families, where aunts and uncles were under the same roof...someone was always there to take care of the elders.

Nowadays the scene is different... The nuclear family system sees husband, wife, and children busy with their own lives, seldom at home and available for parents.

No one is to blame for this. We're all living through a different age and phase of our lives... But concern for the elderly remains, and families grapple with solutions for their security and care.

Today's featured startup ElderAid.in was founded to address the issues of elder care - also known as geriatric care - in the country.

ElderAid provides simple day-to-day services like paying electricity bills, buying movie tickets, and getting help with cell phones, to more complex ones like counseling and medical emergency support.

I chatted with co-founder Santosh Abraham and gained some important findings on the 'real' needs of India's senior citizens.

'Healthcare is not a top priority for elders'

Prior to launching their enterprise, Santosh and his team conducted extensive research to understand what services the market offered and what it lacked... Here's what they found:

We spoke to senior citizens and their children to understand what services their parents' needed. We wanted to bridge the gap between the two varying requirements.

We found very contrasting aspirations and expectations from senior citizens and their kids. While health, security, and day-to-day management of household chores were priorities for the kids, elders were more interested in travel and leisure, companionship, new technologies, and interacting with the younger generation... Surprisingly healthcare is not in their top priority list.

'Medical emergency support, our most popular service'

ElderAid's co-founders Santosh Abraham and Dr Vandana Nadig Nair got inspiration for their venture from their personal experiences with aging parents. Their own family needs as well as those reflected in surveys helped them put together the following services for senior citizens:

Our services range from mundane ones like utility bill payments to medical, counseling, and nursing support. Our most popular service is the medical emergency support... Under this feature, we offer up to 48 hours of being with the subscriber at home/hospital till the person's family or relatives come to take over.

We also address issues of mental health and wellness, as many seniors fear social isolation, feelings of not contributing to society and a sense of abandonment. ElderAid also provides greater security, support in case of emergencies, and aid in managing daily tasks...thereby giving them and their family peace of mind.

There are lot of organisations offering bits and pieces of these services, but we are the only one that offers all and acts as a single point of contact for the senior citizen.

'Elders are not mentally prepared for the lifestyle change'

Whether India is lagging in geriatric care or not is a question only senior citizens can answer accurately. Prima facie, tax benefits and train discounts seem like mere tokenism in comparison to their daily struggles... So are Indians and the country as a whole unprepared for the aging process?

As a society, we are warming up to the idea of geriatric/elder care... We still have a long way to go before we are anywhere near global standards. The government has some awareness campaigns we are aware of, like the one on elder abuse... This is a welcome step towards sensitising society.

Financially, some elders are stable, while others are still dependent on their kids. Unfortunately, most elders are not mentally prepared for the changes that come with life post retirement. It's a big lifestyle adjustment that needs the support and understanding of family members, friends and society.

There are various articles and forums elders can learn from. To help understand things better, our organisations also conducts seminars on topics like aging gracefully and life post retirement.

'Indians don't enjoy retirement'

And just when you thought retirement was when you could travel the world, enjoy time alone, and focus on your own pursuits, research shows that retirees in India are unfortunately unable to cherish their golden years... Santosh tells us why:

I personally don't think Indians enjoy retirement, especially men. This is mainly due to our social structure... As a bread winner, he is the head of the family, and once retired he feels he is not the head anymore. This leads to various emotional changes in the person. Also the elderly are still responsible for the child's marriage, education, etc. This adds to the stress of the retiree.

But we have come across some inspiring senior citizens in our survey... Retired doctors still volunteering for the underprivileged, an ex-military man working on technology to make emergency response faster within communities... Selfless acts with no eye for publicity and fame.

And thus this quote continues to inspire us: 'To care for those who once cared for us is the highest honor.'

Co-founders Santosh Abraham & Dr Vandana Nadig Nair

'We are on the right path as of now'

ElderAid piloted in Bangalore, tweaking its services and model to satisfaction before it hits the national market. In the coming years, it plans to spread its operations to 21 cities across the country.

The feedback to ElderAid has been particularly positive from families who have children living out of the state or country... They understand the value. But our main challenge is that there is still not a mindset among the elderly to spend money proactively... We are educating them about the benefits of our services.

Being a self-funded organisation, another major challenge is to manage our finances without compromising the quality of services or people we hire.

We initially set up ElderAid Wellness Pvt Ltd as a social enterprise, and hence it is early to talk about our commercial success... More than the financial reward, we are happy with the social impact that we are creating... We are on the right path as of now.

 
 

We request your view! Post a comment on "'Care For Those Who Once Cared for Us'". Click here!

11 Responses to "'Care For Those Who Once Cared for Us'"

Sarita Pandya

01 May, 2016

Kudos and three cheers to Elder Aid, Santosh and Vandana. We all worship Lord Ganesha. We take his blessings for our good. But we have never cared to understand that why Ganeshji is worshipped. When challenged about world tour competition due to His heavy body He could not run fast but He took round circles (Parikrama) of His parents and it was held by the Judges that He won .  He is worshipped because he gave importance to His parents- mother Parvati and father Shankarji. He considered that doing parikrama (taking round circle) of the parents are equal to universal ( Bhramand) tour. We chant Sanskrit sloka Tvamev Mata, Tvamev Pita , Tvamev Bandhu Tvamev Sakha  meaning there by O Lord you are my mother, father , brother and friend. Indian culture is full of stories whereby the importance of revering the aged parents/persons are mentioned. We need to highlight this so that young generations can be motivated to help and aid the elders in the hour of their needs. 

Sarita Pandya

01 May, 2016

Kudos and three cheers to Elder Aid, Santosh and Vandana. We all worship Lord Ganesha. We take his blessings for our good. But we have never cared to understand that why Ganeshji is worshipped. When challenged about world tour competition due to His heavy body He could not run fast but He took round circles (Parikrama) of His parents and it was held by the Judges that He won .  He is worshipped because he gave importance to His parents- mother Parvati and father Shankarji. He considered that doing parikrama (taking round circle) of the parents are equal to universal ( Bhramand) tour. We chant Sanskrit sloka Tvamev Mata, Tvamev Pita , Tvamev Bandhu Tvamev Sakha  meaning there by O Lord you are my mother, father , brother and friend. Indian culture is full of stories whereby the importance of revering the aged parents/persons are mentioned. We need to highlight this so that young generations can be motivated to help and aid the elders in the hour of their needs. 

Avinash s chadaga

25 Apr, 2016

Thanks for the Lovely Comments and encouraging words, if you need more information about us please get in touch with us through our website www.elderaid.in

Like (3)

Air Cmde Chinni S Rao,vsm

25 Apr, 2016

I am a retiree and I appreciate and congratulate you four for this wonderful and socially useful idea. It is an eye opener for me to see that Health Care is NOT the priority for elders. , Probably I did not realise this being a Military officer as we have many avenues to communicate, meet and also do some social service.  Though my two children are in another country and we make frequent  visits there , still I offer my services in Hyderabad/secunderabad whenever we are there in Secunderabad. I am not very clear about the actual job/help you people are rendering, but I got an over view from this article.  If possible can you kindly through some more light on the finer details. Thanks.

Like (3)

Ashish Sanyal

24 Apr, 2016

Besides our parents we are also responsible for our aging family retainers, many of whom have been a part of the family for the last 40/50 years. They spent more time with "us" than they did with their own children.

Like (3)

Purusharth Shrivastava

24 Apr, 2016

Nice heart touching communication. Indeed it is a common problem of our society.

Like (2)

Ratan Sharma

24 Apr, 2016

Sounds interesting and exciting folks. Great Initiatives and a profound audience to cater to. Would love to know more and also check on the possibility of aligning in this noble venture.  I can be reached on 9845095113 and you can check my background on LinkedIn - Ratan Sharma

Like (2)

Suhas Aroskar

24 Apr, 2016

We have come across another such organisation for meeting medical emergencies. It works under the name of "HealthSpring" and has branches in Mumbai & other cities. We have met no. of elderly couples who have become members, as they are only two in the house. So in emergency, they may not neighbours to help out. They do have doctors on call even during night and our experience is good where the doctor reached the house in less than 20 mins. Plus they have routine check-ups and consulting, with Pharmacy Store within the clinic. However this seems to be more on commercial rather than only social level.

Anil Kumar Dua

24 Apr, 2016

Very true. My mother is 86yrs old and what you observed during your survey appears to be 100% true. I would closely follow your advice on caring for elders.  I would share the thoughts with others and also get in touch with the organization to see what best can be done.

Like (2)

Ramesh Jaradhara

24 Apr, 2016

This is a great step taken by ElderAid to unwind the woes of elderly people of India. The situation is really very serious to those who has no or little income post retirement or no one else to look after them. The urban India is getting some access to easy medical facilities and other utility outages than rural India. The situation in rural areas are more grave than urban centres. The income level, living standard, social and cultural values, make the situation more worse. Lack of Govt. aid, no presence of charitable institutions, little or no income of the elderly, mostly based on agriculture during earning years, one can only expect death after when physical strengths are wind-down. We need more organizations like ElderAid in entire India to pay our debts to those on whose sacrifices we are now called a young Indian society.

Ajoe george

23 Apr, 2016

Santosh & Vandana, Its a great concept that u guys are working on.. Am sure it will catch up with the masses.. It's a great way of making sure that our elders who have done so much for us are not compromising on their dreams and aspirations cause we are busy trying to achieve ours..  Proud of you guys keep up the good work..Please let me know If there is anything I can do to promote this concept... Cheers and god bless

Like (1)
FREE NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Sign up for a wealth of Common Sense Living ideas delivered to your Inbox for free every week.