A gentle pace…

The best thing about running a shop is all the people you get to meet everyday.  As a specialty shop, most of our walk-in customers are senior citizens in and around the neighbourhood  of our showroom.  All of them walk in slowly, sit down for some time, talk to us, tell us how their day is progressing and then gradually lead on to what they are looking for, buy it, say something pleasant , share a few words of advice and then leave.  After a couple of decades of frenzied (fast-paced, if I want to sugarcoat it) corporate life, thanks to our wonderful bunch of customers I feel like I have gone back to an era when people had time for everything, and the clock moved more slowly.

Gentle paceAs we are gearing to launch out ecommerce site for senior citizens (expected to launch in a couple of weeks), amidst all the cataloging and streamlining activities, I cannot help but wonder if I will still have the time to sit back, relax and  enjoy the pace of life that our customers have reintroduced into our life.  However, having experienced this gentle pace, I am now determined to have an ecommerce portal that somehow captures this essence and at the same time provides our beloved patrons an online place to linger around, talk to us and share their thoughts (just as they do when they come to our showroom).

Exactly how we are going to achieve this, I am not sure yet.  But I am confident that we will find a way.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a note in the comments section.

Read slowly, relax and have a nice day.


Elderly healthcare – Lessons from the UK

Elderly health care in UKAnother article on elder care caught my eye this morning.  It was a talk by aptly named Dr. Andrew Elder on elderly healthcare and learning from UK what not to do!

The expert in geriatric medicine from Edinburgh was delivering the 10th M V Arunachalam endowment lecture on healthcare, “80 not out – challenges of the silver innings.”

He said that just one of India’s 206 medical colleges, Madras Medical College, had a full-time geriatric MD programme. More undergraduate and PG programmes in geriatric studies were required and if this was not improved upon, it would affect quality delivery of healthcare. Presently, 7% of the total population in India was above the age of 65. This was expected to swell to 16% of the total population by 2050.

To read more about it, go to the times of India article titled Learn from UK’s mistakes on elderly healthcare: Expert.

Fauja Singh – Age is just a number

Marathon RunnerThe Hindu is carrying an article today (23rd of Sept. 2012) on one of our more famous seniors in the world today – Fauja Singh.   Born more than 100 years ago (1911, unverified), he has been competing in and more importantly completing marathons for many years now.

He was in the news most recently for carrying the Olympic torch, a fitting privilege for a fantastic athlete.  Earlier in 2011, he completed The Toronto Waterfront full marathon in 8 hrs and 11 minutes, becoming the first 100 year old to complete any marathon.  And to think he started training for his first marathon only in his mid 80’s!

The only reason he is not featured in the Guinness Book of World Records is because he does not have a birth certificate – something that was not regularly recorded at the turn of last century in India.

A hero among Sikhs and for all senior citizens, he has proved again and again that age is just another number!

Indian to western commode converters – Review

In most of the older and more traditional Indian houses, the commodes are Indian style commodes that require you to go on your haunches.  While the Indian-style commode has its advantages, as we grow older, the western commode becomes far easier to use.

While re-modelling the toilet is the best thing to do, it may not always be immediately possible to do so for various reasons such as the time taken, the dust, extended presence of workers in the house and budget.  Under such circumstances it may be wise to use one of the portable western closets or converters as a stop-gap measure or even a permanent solution.

There are several models available out of which the one below is quite popular.  It is called the Rainbow-2 from Karma, a company head-quartered in Taiwan with a presence in over 45 countries around the world.

Indian to western toilet converter

Fold-able, portable western commode

Buy Now

It is an elegant model with a silvery powder coated metal frame with high-grade plastic for the toilet seat, bucket and backrest.

It is fold-able and hence easy to store as well as carry with you on travel.  When not in use, it can be quickly folded without requiring any tools and shoved under the bed or behind the door.

The whole apparatus is easy to clean and maintain.  The bucket rests on a slider making it easy to remove and put back.  Once the bucket is removed, the waste can be dumped into the available toilet and any residual excreta can be washed under the tap or using a health faucet.

This apparatus can also be used as a toilet raiser in case you already have a western closet but find the original seat to be too low for you to comfortably sit and get up.

Care should be taken to keep it in a dry environment when not in use, not splash water on it or keep it wet for extended periods of time and wipe clean after every use.

When used and maintained properly this western commode can give you an extended period of painless service.

No country for old (wo)men

India today has over 78 Lakh citizens over the age of 80. The number of people in the 60-plus age group is expected to cross the 100 million mark in 2013!

“And yet, states haven’t woken up to putting in place systems or infrastructure to take care of its elderly” said a ministry official as quoted in TOI.

Elderly peopleThe health ministry is working on several initiatives under the National Programme for Healthcare of Elderly (NPHCE) including establishing geriatric wards and geriatric clinics at various levels of the district healthcare delivery system.  However, according to the review conducted by the Union Health Ministry most states have miserably failed to honour or execute the NHCPE.

Surprising, given the sizable geriatric population in India, even the private sector is lagging behind in this front.  Only a few hospitals have dedicated geriatric departments and  till very recently only one college offered a post graduate degree in geriatric medicine.

Why are we as a population and country so callous and uncaring about our disadvantaged, differently-abled, and elderly brethren?

To read more, click on “India not a country for senior citizens?“.

Senior Citizen Reverse Mortgage Loan

Among the many well thought out schemes that have been made available by the Government of India specifically for Senior Citizens is the Reverse Mortgage Loan.  This is a fantastic scheme that allows senior citizens to monetize their property without having to sell it. Despite its usefulness, most people are not aware of its existence.  Given below are the details of the Reverse Mortgage Loan scheme extracted from http://www.india.gov.in site.

A large part of the savings of Senior Citizens is tied up in non-liquid assets such as homes and property. Senior Citizens usually do not have a regular income and if they exhaust their savings, then it gets difficult to meet living expenses without having to sell their house. A reverse mortgage allows a senior citizen who owns a house to avail of a monthly stream of income against mortgage of the house. The senior citizen remains the owner and occupies the house throughout his or her lifetime, without repayment or servicing of the loan. This system allows Senior Citizens to convert their homes into cash without having to sell their property.

The monthly amount paid by the reverse mortgage company can be used to meet medical expenses, pay utility bills and so on. The borrower does not need to repay the loan as long as he/she continues to live in the house. They can never owe more than the value of their house. After the death of the Senior Citizen, the lending institution sells the house to recover the amount of the mortgage plus interest. All amounts in excess are given to the heirs of the borrower. The basic difference between a reverse mortgage and a regular mortgage is the fact that a reverse mortgage has no predetermined tenure and does not have to be paid back in monthly installments. This makes is extremely viable for Senior Citizens.

The amount a Senior Citizen may receive per month is determined according to the value of their property, their age and the prevalent interest rate. Generally, people who have a more valuable home and are older get a larger amount of money per month. The National Housing Bank (NHB), which regulates housing finance, has enumerated operational guidelines through which this facility will be extended by Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs). PLIs include Scheduled Banks and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) registered with the NHB.

Some reverse mortgage schemes offered by Primary Lending Institutions in India are the:

Institutions such as ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Andhra Bank have also planned to launch similar reverse mortgage schemes in the near future.

Celebrating Age – India Expo 2012

Vision India is organizing a Celebrating Age – India Expo 2012 across all major cities in India during the months of September and October 2012.  This is a major event for senior citizens of India showcasing over 50 stalls including major banks, hospitals, insurance companies and other companies relevant to senior citizens in India.

The calendar for the expo across different cities is given below:


Please mark your calendar and remember to attend the Expo in your city.  Entry is free.   To know more, click here.

Thoughts on our name

We named our store for Senior Citizens “Old is Gold Store” because it has a nice positive ring to it and reflects our sincere belief that our parents and elderly friends are as precious as gold.

However, in the e-commerce world what is more important is that the site’s address is easy to type, spell, pronounce and has a clear correlation to what you are doing/selling.

Let us look at how our name fares on each of the criteria of ease of typing, spelling, pronouncing and relating:

1.  We could not get OldIsGold.com, obviously.  So it is OldisGoldStore.com which is kind of long and winding.  So on the count of ease of typing we have a lot to be desired.

2.   E-commerce sites which play with words and spellings(replacing C with K, or dropping the “e” from the ending “er” – flickr, bickr, suckr,… you get the idea) have a difficult time until the become popular and mainstream.  Not only will people find it difficult to find the site, they might end up reaching a competitors site with the proper spelling.  On the spelling front, I think we do not have a problem.  OldisGoldStore.com is easy to spell with nothing french or complicated about it.

3.  Clear pronunciation:  This is of paramount importance especially when you are hoping that the news of your e-commerce site will spread through word-of-mouth.  If you have people asking “How do you spell that?” when you mention your site address, you definitely have this problem.  In our case, though the site address is quite a mouthful, it is still easy enough to say and understand, especially since “Old is Gold” is a very well known phrase.

4. Name association:  This is where we are facing a serious challenge.  Here’s what has happened a few times already:

We talk to someone about OldisGoldStore and tell them that it is a store exclusively for senior citizens who are unfortunately a marginalized and neglected population in India and that we are trying to do all that we can to make their sunset years nice and comfortable, and so on.

The next time, we meet the person, they ask “So, how is your antique shop doing?”.  Obviously, despite all our pitching they remember us as an antique shop!  We did not worry about it too much the first couple of times it happened, but it has happened too many times too quickly for us to just brush it off.  A few days ago, I went to bed thinking to myself that we might have to change the name if this carries on, and woke up with another thought.

I quickly googled Antique and the definition read “Having a high value because of considerable age“.  So, in a way, the people who thought we are dealing with antiques are quite right in a way.  Our customers are definitely “Having a high value because of considerable age“.  So, now we have also started telling people that we are a different kind of antique store in a half-joking, half-serious manner and I believe that is helping them remember exactly what we stand for.

Now, will you, dear reader, remember what we stand for exactly?

The Karma Fighter C Wheelchair

This Karma fighter series wheel chair and is a very basic, no-frills, inexpensive wheel chair.  It has leather-like polyester fiber material for the bottom and back and a chrome plated metal frame and is ideally suited for indoor use.  It is an extremely comfortable chair and the patient will be able to sit in the chair for hours at a time without any discomfort.

The overall width of the wheel chair is 25 inches, so before you buy this wheel chair, you should check the doors and passages in your house to ensure that they are over 25 inches wide. The seat width comes in two sizes – 16″ and 18″ and can take  up to 100 Kgs in weight.

The armrests are fixed while the foot rests can be folded when required.  However, the footrests are not detachable.  The front wheels are 8″ solid caster and the rear wheels are 24″.

Karma Fighter C

Karma Fighter C

1.  Is the footrest.  Make sure that the patient has their feet placed firmly on the footrests when they are being wheeled around.  When stationary and when the patient wants to get up, the footrests may be folded and moved out of the way.

2.  In the picture, 2 points to the brakes.  They are present on both the wheels.  These are simple brakes that you should keep applied at all times except when you are wheeling the chair around.  Make sure these brakes are on, especially when the patient is being seated or is getting up from the wheel chair as this is when it is mostly likely to slide away from the patient.

3. At the back of the wheel chair, you will find two projections about 4 inches above the ground. When one wants to get the front wheels over a short obstacle such as a threshold, the person pushing the wheel chair can step on these projections and apply some weight to easily lift the front wheels off the ground and above the obstruction.

4.  The 4 in the figure above points to the handle grips to be used by the person pushing the wheelchair.  Contours for the fingers are provided to ensure that the care taker has a firm grip on the wheelchair. You can buy this wheelchair online by clicking here.

Wheel Chair – Safety Precautions

Here are some simple things you need to check and do to ensure that the person sitting in the wheel chair is safe.

1.  When you are wheeling the patient within the house, the passages and door ways may be narrow and hence care should be taken that the patient’s elbows are not jutting out.

2.  Similarly, for patients with weak neck muscles, the head may fall sideways suddenly and care should be taken to ensure that they do not end up banging their heads on the walls and doorways.

3.  When pushing the wheel chair down a slope, it is always best to roll the wheel chair backwards so that there is no chance of the patient falling off the wheel chair.

4.  When footrests are available, always make sure that the patients legs are placed firmly on the footrests.  This will prevent the feet from scraping the floor and getting scratched or twisted.