CHENNAI: The first thing you notice about ‘Old is Gold Store’ for senior citizens in Anna Nagar, is the massive parking lot. And as you approach the building, which is actually a house converted into a shop, there are no steps — just a ramp that leads to the shop.
Ask founder S Prithvirajan about it and he says it’s to ensure senior-friendliness in every way. “Seniors should be able to park easily and access the store. The location is away from the hustle-bustle of the usual commercial establishments and it’s on the ground floor,” he says.
The former techie leads us through a hall filled with products for seniors – adult diapers, toilet and mobility aids, to a room in the house which is his office. “Every day, I would observe my octagenarian mother face the trials of old age – she was a highly independent woman who lost her eyesight. One of the first things we did was to build a railing so that she could walk to the toilet and back by herself,” he explains. “Later came the need for adult diapers. Initially she was reluctant, but she realised that if she used those, she didn’t have to call us in the middle of the night, and there was no fear of bed-wetting.”
As his software company hit a rough patch, he decided to make the jump into products for seniors. Indeed, experiences with his mother had taught him a great deal already. And that’s how the store first opened in late 2011, with his wife and a friend later joining him as partners.
Among the biggest selling products are toilet aids.
“As people age, they find it difficult to sit down and get up. In the initial stages, I would personally deliver products. One of my clients was an elderly woman in the typical situation: living alone in a huge house with kids abroad.”
She told Prithvirajan that she faced an embarrassing situation every morning — she could not get up from the toilet seat and had to call for her maid’s help. “We installed a toilet raiser and the next day she called to thank me,” he smiles. The usual height of the toilet seat is 17 inches from the floor. Using the device, the height is raised by four more inches, making it easier to get up.
Another problem is incontinence. The store, which first started in Adyar, ran articles on the issue in the local newspaper, after which seniors came to them to talk about it. “We realised that the number of people who have the problem is large, but very few address it,” he says.
As the 55-year-old demonstrates products like a reciprocal walker and clothing where seniors don’t even have to lift their hands to put on a shirt, you can see his passion coming through, a passion that has given a shoulder for seniors to lean on.