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A small emergency in your family, and it's as if somebody wakes you up from deep slumber. Yes, slumber. Because that's the state you are in if something's right in front of you but you've been too preoccupied to realise it. We tend to feel that old people being moved to old age homes are the only ones who are in need of our service. But the truth is that the old people in our own homes, grandparents or parents, also need our attention once they cross a particular age.
Even as the world's population ages at a rate higher than ever before and the predominantly young Indian demographic becomes older, few technology innovations are catered to the senior citizen segment, out of the fear that this may seem insulting to users and unprofitable to business operations. Unfortunately, even existing technology innovations such as mobile phones, laptops and desktops are not built for easier function and use by this section of society.
An old lady shuffles to her home down our street every day. She slows down if she sees me and hopes that I call out. I do. She eagerly stops and turns around. I can see the desperation. She just wants to talk. Her only son lives elsewhere and is too wrapped up in his life. She waits for him to turn around, pull away from his web for some time and acknowledge her presence. Till then she goes on being the ghost that waits.
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When I look at the younger and older generations, I think they beautifully complement and supplement each other. What one has the other does not. What one gives the other desires to get. All that is needed is to bring these worlds together. How? With the power of technology. The answer is really a marketplace ecosystem which brings potential opportunities to the retired workforce. So what does this mean?
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I have experienced surges of the need to stay fit all through my 30s and 40s. A grim reminder of my inability to sustain this, however, is evident in the last piece of costly home-gym equipment I insisted on buying a decade ago. It eventually remained in a corner of my walk-in closets in residences over various postings - as an expensive but useful duster-cum-umbrella-holder.
But in countries like ours, when the state fails, where mothers mother their children long after they've had their own children, how can we explain those very children abandoning their aged parents when life gets too distracting?