Senior friendly railway stations

At Old is Gold Store, wherever we go, we make it a habit to look at all public places such as railway stations, resorts, hotels and restaurants through the eyes of a senior citizen so that we can highlight all the senior friendly places to our customers.  Given our record in India, we can safely state that it is easier to document and list all senior/disabled friendly places (a very short list) than enumerate all the places which are not senior friendly (a very long list indeed).

Recently, on a trip to Varkala in Kerala, we were pleasantly surprised to find the railway station had ramps for entry to the station, ramps for entry to the canteen, free stretcher and wheelchair service and an easily accessible and readily available wheelchair at the station.

I could not spot the toilet though in the short time that we were there, so I cannot state whether the toilets were senior safe.  Also we did not find an elevator to help people cross over to the other track (we had to climb a flight of stairs to get on to the over-bridge and climb down on the other side).  Nevertheless, we appreciate the builders of Varkala station and hope that more public places take the cue from Varkala.

If you have noticed places that have taken special care to make all areas accessible, please write to us at with photos.


Free wheelchair service during kutcheri season

FreeWheelchairservicebanner1December is the season of music and dance in Chennai and the music season has started in full earnest.  Every year, a large percentage of rasikas are older people and this year is no exception.  In order not to miss the performances of their favourite artists,  many of them even surmount their mobility issues to reach the Sabhas.

A quick glance at the facilities at the Sabhas quickly shows that most auditoriums are devoid of even the basis infrastructure necessary for the comfort of senior citizens. The aisles are narrow, the steps steep and the toilets – the less we say, the better.

In order to create an awareness about the special needs of senior citizens, Old is Gold Store is providing free wheelchair service at selected Sabhas during this music season. While this not only provides an immediate solution to one of the problems, it also highlights the poor support that public places in India provide for the senior citizens and the disabled.

We reached out to all the major Sabhas and two of them responded immediately and have welcomed us to provide this facility at their Sabha hall.  One of them is Chennai Cultural where this facility started yesterday and the other is Hamsadhwani where the facility will be available from the 16th of December.

Old is Gold Store is highly appreciative of these two Sabhas for being so sensitive to the needs of the patrons and for being so proactive and forth-coming.  We hope that soon more Sabhas join this elite group.


International Day of people with disability – 3rd December

ribbon-135x110 (1)International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

Searching the net for information regarding IDPwD and India provides very few search results.  As a nation of 1.2 Billion, how can we be completely blind to the needs of the disabled?

Recently, in view of the kutcheri season coming up in Chennai , we wrote to several sabhas suggesting that we would provide free wheelchair service (from car to their seats and back) to the elderly attending these concerts.  After all, senior citizens with mobility issues can also be considered disabled.  Very few Sabhas have actually taken up the offer.  In fact, one of the Sabhas actually said, “There will be only a few people needing the service each day and hence I do not think it is necessary to provide such a service to so few people”!

I believe that India as a country and Indians as a whole are disabled – Blind to the needs of our own, be it the disabled, the elderly or those less fortunate in other ways, deaf to their requests for even basic support, and dumbly watching people as they suffer!

Will we ever change?

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.

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.