Tamae Watanabe(73) – Oldest person to conquer Mt. Everest

Tamae Watanabe

Oldest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest

On 19th May 2012, Tamae Watanable, at the age of 73, conquered Mt. Everest and became the oldest person to reach the top of the highest peak in the world.  She bettered her own record set 10 years earlier.

Tamae Watanabe reached Everest’s 8,850-meter-high (29,035-foot-high) summit from the northern side of the mountain in Tibet on Saturday morning at about 7 AM after having started on the last leg at 8:30 PM the previous evening with four other team members.

We salute the indomitable spirit of this sprightly 73 year old.  To put things in perspective, only about 4000 people have ever successfully reached to top of Mt. Everest so far in the history of mankind.


Flying and Limited mobility – continuation

I just wrote about this yesterday and there is more good news for the disabled and people with mobility restrictions flying within India.

You may remember that a few months back, a person on a wheelchair was offloaded from an airplane of a private carrier because of their disability.  This made news and thanks to the uproar in mainstream media, the Civil Aviation Authority set up a review committee to look into the matter and finally a report has been released.

You can read my earlier article here and the Hindu article here.  The latest report is available here (not really as it is not yet up on the DGCA site.  Will post the link as soon as it is available).

How true – for so many of us!

Got this forward today. Seemed apt for this blog and so I decided to post it here.

An elderly man in Mumbai calls his son in New York and says,
I hate to ruin your day son, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are getting a divorce; 35 years of marriage… and that much misery is enough!’
Dad, what are you talking about?‘ the son screams.
We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,’ the old man says. ‘We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Hong Kong and tell her!

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone.
Like heck they’re getting divorced,’ she shouts, ‘I’ll take care of this.’
She calls Mumbai immediately, and screams at the old man, ‘You are not getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then , don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR??‘ and she hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. ‘Okay‘, he says, ‘It’s all set. They’re both coming for our anniversary and paying their own airfare!!’

No man / woman is busy in this world all 365 days.
The sky is not going to fall down if you take few days LEAVE and meet your dear ones.
Give time to PARENTS!!!!!!

Limited Mobility and flying

If you are flying domestic or international, and have mobility issues, it is important that you understand what facilities your selected airline carrier provides. Different Indian airlines seem to provide different levels of service and some charge for the services while others provide this for free. Also different airlines have different rules regarding powered wheelchairs and the kind of batteries they use.

Here are the links to the relevant pages for the different airlines in India for your ready reference.

1. Air India.
2. Jet Airways.
3. Spice Jet.
4. Indigo.
5. Kingfisher.
6. Go Air.

Have a safe flight.

Senior citizen facilities from the Indian railways

There are a lot of facilities provided by the Indian Government for senior citizens on paper. Unfortunately not many of these are available in reality. The most obvious reason for this is the general apathy on the part of the various organizations and government bodies who are responsible for ensuring the availability of these facilities.

However, they are not the only ones to blame. Many of us do not use the few facilities that are available. This leads the decision makers to feel that they services are under utilized and hence not very important. Gradually they are discontinued and we are back to square one!

If we want more facilities for senior citizens, the elders in our country need to do two things:
1. Use all the facilities available, however few they may be, to the maximum.
2. Demand more facilities.

Let us start with the railways. Here are some things that the railways are providing to help Senior citizens.

  1. Concessions for senior citizens – 40% for men over 60 years and 50% for women over 58.
  2. Separate counters for booking/cancellation of tickets.
  3. A battery-operated car service is available at both Chennai Central and Egmore stations for the convenience of disabled and aged passengers. Even if you can walk all the way, if this service is available use it. The phone numbers are Chennai Central: 99403 56789 and Egmore: 99520 56789.

If you know of any other service or similar services in other railway stations, do let us know so we can update this information on our site.  Together we can make this country a more civilized place.

Parents vs Profession

A couple of independent discussions around the topic of elderly parents being left to fend for themselves in India came to my notice last week.  One was on facebook.  A friend had posted

ppl May disagree With what i say, but having son or daughter near u at the evening of ur life is the best boon for any parent. am at a relatives’ death where both the son and daughter r in USA.

A simple observation by most counts and many of his friends seemed to agree.  One person though, took umbrage and wrote a fairly scathing response. To wit, he wrote that it was unfair to target people in the US and that we are a hypocritical society and that elder people left to fend for themselves was an universal problem and that the original poster was insensitive – about 1000 words to that effect!

The other discussion was actually an opinion column written by a Doctor – Dr. V. Srinivas titled “Parents… or the pot of gold?” in The Hindu where he describes some of his meetings with elderly folks with empty nests struggling to live their evening years without sufficient familial support.  A well balanced article that shows how all of us – both young and old – have contributed to this situation.  A must read for every Indian.

As a company catering to the needs of senior citizens, we see our fair share of elderly individuals and couples bravely struggling to cope with all the challenges that age and this society is throwing at them.  Also, as individuals in our mid-forties, we have a lot of friends living and working abroad (with ageing parents back here in India) who are struggling to see how they could balance the life they have worked hard to build abroad and their responsibilities towards their ageing parents.

One the one hand, India is no country for the elderly.  There is hardly any working infrastructure – private or public – that is geared to provide even some minimum guaranteed level of comfort, safety and security for the aged, especially for the burgeoning middle class senior population.  It is inescapable that the entire onus of elder care lies on the shoulders of the children and immediate family.

On the other hand, over the last three to four decades, there has been a veritable exodus of young adults from middle class families to greener pastures abroad thanks to governmental reforms and liberalization, access to better universities abroad, challenging work opportunities, peer pressure and ambitious parents.  This has led to the situation today where we find middle-aged couples with teenage children well settled into a “American dream” life trying their best to look after their parents who are in the mid-70s abd 80s still living in India.

Until a few years ago, if my friends asked for advice, my ready response was to recommend that they move back and start a fresh life here with their savings as a solid foundation.  However, things have changed quite a bit since then.  Now the children are older and more difficult to transplant. Job opportunities are not as easy to come by with most companies preferring younger (and less expensive) local resources to seasoned experienced people returning from abroad (who may be expecting a larger salary and greater freedom).  More than all that, for people who have not already bought a house in India, coming back can be nearly impossible, unless they have made a killing in the stock market or have been working for facebook, linkedin, google or some other internet behemoth from their early days.  While half-a-million dollars is a huge sum of money in the US, it can hardly fetch you a 1500 sqft apartment in a Indian city today.

To be truthful, my sympathies are equally divided between the senior citizens struggling here to lead a normal life and their children struggling to reconcile their established life abroad and their responsibility to their parents back in India.  I do not think there is an easy answer here.

Ideally, the answer would lie elsewhere – either in organizations looking at elder care as a business opportunity and providing good services and/or a more sensitive government taking responsibility for improving living conditions for all sections of society including the fast growing senior citizen population which is likely to cross 100 Million in 2013.  With our government’s track record, we can only hope that the private sector can step up to the plate and take steps to make a difference.

Would love to hear opinions from elders and Indians living abroad on this topic.  Please use the comments section to post your thoughts.

The 3 R’s for Senior Citizens

I was recently talking to a senior citizen customer and he shared with me the 3 R’s that are of utmost importance to them during this phase of their life.

They want to be relevant.  Through a career typically spanning three or four decades, each senior citizen has learnt a lot – literally a lifetime worth of knowledge – and quite a bit of that continues to be meaningful and useful in today’s world.  Just because they have retired does not mean they have nothing more to contribute to the world today.

They want to feel required. Again a lifetime of experiences has honed their skills in multiple areas and hence they are in a position to help us, the next generation, navigate through life’s ups and down.  If only we ask them!

They want to be respected.  Traditionally, India is a country known to respect elders.  However, this culture seems to have eroded over the last few decades.  It behooves us to remember that where we, the generation X, are today is largely due to the efforts of our elders – for they have helped educate us and given us a bright future.  If that does not deserve our respect, what will?

World Diabetes Day – Get your random blood sugar test done today

Today, 14th November 2012, is World Diabetes Day.

Hospitals around India are offering to do a diabetes screening random blood sugar test for FREE.   If you are over 35 years old, take this opportunity to screen yourself for diabetes – India’s fastest growing disease.

Old is Gold Store takes this opportunity to wish you a diabetes free life.

To check out products for diabetics, please visit here.

DVT Risk – Self Assessment

Here is a quick way to do a self assessment to see if you are at risk of suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis.  For each of the criteria below, give yourself points against the option that is right for you. At the end add up your points.  The points table at the bottom shows if you are at risk and at what level.


Years Score
10 – 30 0
31 – 40 1
41 – 50 2
51 – 50 3
61+ 4

Body Mass Index

Build BMI Score
Underweight 16 – 18 0
Average/Desirable 19 – 25 1
Overweight 25 – 30 2
Obese 31 – 40 3
Morbid Obesity 41+ 4


Ambulant 0
Walk with aids (Walker) 1
Needs help 2
Chair bound 3
Completely bed ridden 4

Special risk category
For women using oral contraceptives:

20 – 35 years 1
35+ 2
Pregnant 3

Recent surgery

Thoracic 3
Abdominal 3
Neurosurgical 3
Urological 3
Orthopedic (Below waist) 4

High Risk Diseases

Ulcerative Colitis 1
Anemia 2
Polycythaemia 2
Chronic heart disease 3
Myocardial Infarction 4
Malignancy 5
Varicose Veins 6
Previous DVT 7


< 6 No risk
6 – 10 Low risk
11 – 14 Moderate risk
15+ High risk

Foot care for diabetics

Over 60% of diabetics suffer from some form of nerve damage.  This is called diabetic neuropathy. People with diabetes can, over time, develop nerve damage throughout the body. Some people with nerve damage have no symptoms. Others may have symptoms such as pain, tingling, or numbness-loss of feeling-in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Nerve problems can occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs.

People with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but risk rises with age and longer duration of diabetes. The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years. Diabetic neuropathies also appear to be more common in people who have problems controlling their blood glucose, also called blood sugar, as well as those with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure and those who are overweight.

The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which essentially affects hands, arms, legs, feet and toes.  In many cases people lose sensation in these area and hence injuries to these parts of the body, especially feet and toes go unnoticed, leading to infections which could eventually result in amputation, septicemia and even death.

The importance of foot care for diabetics cannot be stressed enough.  Here are some precautions to take:

1. Inspect your foot daily (Visual surveillance of extremities(VSE))
2. Wash foot in lukewarm water
3. Use correct footwear
4. Do not walk bare foot
5. Do not walk with ulcer in the foot
6. Get periodic foot exams
7. Do not sit with legs crossed
8. Do not trim corns and calluses
9. Do not apply heating and cooling pads on legs
10. Cut nails carefully

In addition, there is whole range of special footwear available today that can keep your foot safe and free of infection.  We have already covered some of the silver yarn based socks.  You can read more about them here.

So what do you look for in footwear (shoes or sandals), if you are a diabetic?  The diagram below gives you a quick overview of some the important features necessary in prophylactic footwear:

Click here to buy prophylactic footwear specially designed for diabetics and people with arthritis.