Growing old is a natural phenomenon, but it can become a struggle in the absence of proper care, love and support from family.
In India, the current senior citizen population of 130 million is expected to double to 300 million in the next few years. With a rapidly-growing 60-plus population, India is facing a herculean task of providing basic senior-friendly infrastructure.
Today, most aged are alone at home, confined to solitude with minimal care and support. According to a study, 64 percent of senior citizens living in an urban setup fall prey to loneliness and depression. The loss of physical independence along with mental and societal insecurities due to retirement or death of a partner can take a toll on them.
While there are multiple startups for the millennial generations, some entrepreneurs and healthcare practitioners have designed products and services for the elderly.
Seniority, the Pune-based startup, set up in 2017 by Tapan Mishra and Ayush Agrawal, is an omnichannel e-commerce platform especially tailored for senior citizens. It has a curated product portfolio of over 10,000 products across the medical, wellness, kitchen, leisure and lifestyle categories. From bathroom and mobility aids, massagers and pain relief products to books, music and personal care items, Seniority has a whole range of products for seniors.
Ayush was managing the marketing efforts of CEAT Speciality, a part of the Mumbai-based RPG Group, when this idea came to his mind. The RPG Group has invested USD 6 million in the startup.
Tapan Mishra, co-founder, Seniority told The Blue Circle, “Seniors today not only have greater disposable income, but also more willingness to spend on themselves, their lifestyles and even hobbies. We identified that the organized retail market for this consumer group is negligible and wanted to address this gap.”
The team opened their first store in Pune, and second in Coimbatore, in association with CovaiCare, a brand focussed on senior care. Today, it has two more Experience Zones( Chennai and Bhiwadi), and a popular online portal.
“Seniority has a vision of becoming the one-stop shop for all medical, lifestyle and gifting needs of seniors and their caregivers. Our private label range of products consist of quality assured solutions to meet the evolving needs of the elderly. We host community engagement initiatives such as yoga, zumba, health camps, karaoke nights, movie screenings, workshops, etc.to help our customers feel valued and cherished,” shared Tapan.
Gurugram-based EMOHA eldercare is founded by Saumyajit Roy, who has extensive experience in the real estate sector, especially in senior living communities. The eldercare startup was launched in 2019 to redefine home care for the elderly by providing them with 24/7 emergency response, health tracking, home safety and support.
The startup utilises the military ‘buddy concept’ to help elders live a happy and healthy life, in the absence of family support. EMOHA, which stands for ‘Emotional Happiness’, is also an anagram of “a home”. Saumyajit knew that this was the need of the hour, since his own parents faced an emergency while he was traveling, and that’s what made him realise about the uncertainties in life.
EMOHA’s engagement with elders starts with a detailed health assessment, followed by a thorough home assessment to understand potential hazards in an elder’s home. An emergency can be notified, either by pressing a button or through automatic smart sensors. The EMOHA emergency response mechanism ensures that a community coordinator and a paramedic nurse reach the home as soon as possible. Services are available 24/7 through a toll-free helpline.
Saumyajit Roy, CEO and founder, EMOHA shared with TBC, “Emoha’s mission is to create the world’s most comprehensive digital community of elders and for those who love and care for them. Emoha’s App, our tech platform, our systems, training, quality processes, have all been in operations for over six months now, and has saved over 35 elder lives, delivered 13,000 care calls, and over 2500 days of care while being in operations in NCR Delhi.”
He further assured, “The elders on our Empower and Assure membership plans remain unlocked and fearless during Covid and beyond.”
The eldercare startup, funded by Lumis Partners, presently has a team of 75 members, including 20 community managers. The team has been taking care of 3400 elders, with over 2500 volunteers in NCR Delhi.
When co-founder of SeniorWorld, Rahul Gupta turned 50, he started thinking about the struggles of senior citizens. He has a huge extended family and had, on numerous occasions, witnessed the difficulties the aged faced. At that point, he was working with a private telecom company, but decided to quit his job and start a venture for seniors in 2015, with his colleague, MP Deepu.
“We wanted to do something that was socially impactful, something which we were proud of. It is easy to acquire millennials and target them, which is why most startups are in that space. We have elders in our house and we have seen them struggle, so this came very naturally to us,” shared Deepu with TBC, adding that acquiring this segment is not easy, and senior citizens have several limitations.
SeniorWorld offers useful products like clothes, bathroom mats, apart from their flagship phone, Easyfone. According to the company, the revolutionary phone has been designed with the twin objective of enhancing independence as well as ensuring safety for seniors.
The phone has raised, back-lit keys, eight photo contacts for easy dialing, an SOS button that can be used to make a siren call and SMS to five contacts, giving out location and medical information, magnifier, torch and many other services.
“The current generation of senior citizens is very different from the earlier ones. It is more exposed to new things, has more options to explore and it also wants to venture out. We will see many more startups coming up in this space, with this demographic growing,” said Deepu.
The startup also offers Silverwings holiday packages to seniors that are a perfect blend of exploration, relaxation, and fun with utmost comfort. Some of their most popular holidays include Singapore, Dubai, Kerala, Sri Lanka, Andaman, Vietnam and Cambodia, and Australia.
Founded by Aparna Thakker in December 2018, Mumbai-based startup Empowerji aims to empower citizens by helping them learn technology so that they can live independently and be self-sufficient, even when they are old. It is inspired by first-hand experiences of people close to her.
She realised that while senior citizens were not closed to the idea of technology, they shied away from using it. Due to this reason, they continue to do things in a traditional and tedious manner. That’s why she established this startup to simplify technology for seniors, so that they can adapt it in their daily life.
The Empowerji Assistant service helps seniors who need help with daily tasks like booking cabs, ordering medicines, and paying bills. Seniors can call this assistant to seek help with all this or know more about something.
The bootstrapped startup also organises basic workshops called ‘Stay Connected’ free of cost for senior citizens, and includes tutorials on mobile basics, social media, e-commerce, online bill payment and importance of cybersecurity. There are other customised workshops that are chargeable.
Empowerji also has an app that is available in 4 languages (English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati), which will be updated depending on the demand.
As the name suggests, BeautifulYears aims to make old age beautiful for seniors. Founded by Vladi Ruppo, along with Pavithra Reddy in January 2016, this Bengaluru-based startup offers to make your home senior-friendly. The founders realised that every third elderly person falls at least once a year and 20% of these falls are life-threatening; 50% of these falls can be prevented.
While there are several companies that make houses baby-friendly, there are none for seniors. The startup visits the seniors’ homes, and suggests ways to make them safe and secure. They have also created an online forum for people taking care of their parents, to share experiences and to help each other.
Besides making homes senior-friendly, BeautifulYears also sells a gamut of elder care products online and offline, at its physical store in Koramangala. The store has alarm pendants, wearables and watches, so if seniors fall, they can call for help. There are GPS trackers for people with Alzheimer’s, to assist in case they leave home unexpectedly and do not know their way back. There are multiple anti-skid and fall prevention solutions. There are home automation systems very pertinent for the elderly.
In a nutshell, this self-funded startup provides opportunities to seniors to live a happy and independent life.
Old is gold
The current market for adult care is massive and growing at an unprecedented rate. In India alone, there are approximately 70-100 million differently-abled people. In a country where the struggle is a daily constant, life is even harder for the differently-abled senior citizens, whether it’s about traveling, living an independent life or going out, there are challenges that need to be addressed for them.
These startups are bridging gaps and tackling issues, and the numbers are only going to rise.
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