Startups are now at the forefront of innovations aimed at catering to the elderly’s needs, and helping their caregivers. The ageing of the Indian population now present them with highly lucrative opportunities, allowing them to help elders while keeping business afloat.
They are called Senior Shelf, Silver Talkies, and BeautifulYears, and they’re currently shaping the development of the Silver economy in india, in various fields of expertise.
Senior Shelf, online shopping portal
Senior Shelf is an online shopping portal specialising in products and services for seniors. It all started when founder Rahul Upadhyay set out to find a blood pressure machine for his parents, foraging during a good four hours before finding the device ; thinking about the lack of accessibility of such items inspired him to create an online shop that would provide the elderly with relevant products and services. Another important goal is to make those services known to their target audience, as many Indian seniors are not always aware of their existence.
According to Rahul Upadhyay, toilet products are particularly in demand. Falls are a common factor of autonomy loss and even death among the elderly, as bone structures grow more fragile with age. Items such as safety rails are instrumental in making bathrooms safer for seniors. But the portal also focuses on other ways of fostering autonomy: “We also aggregate other products like wheelchairs, walking sticks, products for bedridden elderly like bed safety railing etc. Among the services offered are senior care at home, nursing care services and travel packages for the elderly – all of these are aggregated from third party partner.”
Read our report : Falls among the elderly : detection, advice and prevention
The startup is now considering opening a non-virtual shop to make its products directly accessible to the elderly, instead of the younger family members who made up their primary targets.
“When we started off, being online, our primary targets were the children of the elderly who are not able to live with their parents, but would still like to support and help them as much as possible regardless of geography. However, we have also discovered a large number of elderly who want to purchase the products for their own consumption – but are not online enabled hence find it difficult. Hence we are now contemplating an offline model to cater to them”, said Upadhyay.
Silver Talkies, an online magazine for Indians aged 60 and above
Silver Talkies was founded by Nidhi Chawla and Reshmi Chakraborty ; it is an online magazine and platform aimed at seniors, as well as their families : “Both of us live away from our parents and as they grew older, we saw the need to enhance various aspects in their lives and felt there was a lacunae in meeting the needs of senior citizens.We felt the need for an online platform that provided exclusive information on everything relevant to the 60 plus age group.“
The platforms relays inspirational stories of seniors in order to promote an active, positive attitude to retirement and change people’s perception of ageing. “Our aim from the beginning has been to highlight the amazing potential, enterprise and talent among senior citizens in India, something that often gets sidelined. Offline, we bring exclusive, tailor made events and workshops for the 60 plus, ranging from art workshops to heritage walks to a carnival featuring senior entrepreneur”, says Chakraborty.
BeautifulYears : adapting seniors’ home to autonomy loss
BeautifulYears was founded by Vladi Ruppo and Pavithra Reddy ; it offers a wide array of services for the elderly : they give advice on how best to adapt your home to mobility impairments, but also provide innovating items such as teleassistance devices.
“We are the first to make your home senior friendly, “elder-proofing” it for your aging parents. We come over and suggest best ways to make your home safe, secure, and comfortable for seniors. We have also created an online forum for people taking care of their parents, to share experiences and to help each other take better care of our seniors. […] Secondly, we help people find the best services – be it a physiotherapist, a nurse or an attendant, or a senior living facility. We know almost everyone in the market, and we help you choose – free of charge” , Vladi Ruppo explained.
The founders also highlight an important aspect of their activities : federating several Silver economy players in order to bring their solutions to consumers.
Read our report : Ageing in place : how to adapt your home
What prospects for the development of the Silver economy in India ?
In India, the Silver economy remains in its very early stages, according to Senior Shelf founder Rahul Upadhyay : “Frankly – the industry does not quite exist in India as yet and neither do all the products. The awareness and consciousness is also not there. In that sense, we are a bit ahead of the curve.”
But the ageing of population might bring with it greater awareness of age-related issues, as well as many growth opportunities, particularly regarding the next generation of seniors : “There is a large population of tech savvy retirees coming up in the next 5-7 years – people who were in 40’s when the Internet boom happened in late 90’s and early 2000. These are a tech savvy, aware generation of retirees who would demand products and services they see available outside India, and that is where I see real growth coming in.”