A handy travel companion
A senior has come up with a pouch which contains all the necessary items that seniors might need when they travel.
BY: Eleanor Yap
While youths are coming up with ideas on how to help seniors, so are seniors. Sixty-three-year-old retiree Richard Loh has come up with a travel companion for seniors called an elder pouch. The idea originally was a first-aid kit for seniors that was muted during a discussion in August by Silver Spring, a social enterprise which champions mature jobseekers, and a few entrepreneurs.
Richard explained that after that meeting, he met up with businessman James Lam, 62, who was at the meeting, and shared that there needed to be two more things in the kit – a fever strip and a wrist blood pressure meter. “These are essential items in the morning before one goes out for activities. I also wanted the kit to be handy and portable,” said the ex-civil servant.
He also spoke to James that with the additions and the need for portability, it would be better to change the name of the kit. One month after the first meeting, he presented his ideas to Silver Spring’s founder Helen Lim and some others, and had a resounding thumbs-up. He then proceeded to think of the design and the development of the now called elder pouch, while James reached out to his contacts in China to cost the items in the pouch and figure out the pricing of the items.
But as ideas happen, they tend to have to change along the way. Richard shared that they considered reaching out to travel agencies and airlines to buy their product so they could give or sell it to their clientele. However, during one of the meetings, someone raised the issue that having a blood pressure meter does not produce conclusive results, and if agencies and airlines were involved, they might then be liable. Richard and James decided to replace the blood pressure meter with a knee guard, and they are still looking into selling the elder pouch to travel agencies.
But that wasn’t all. In November, the symbol of a cross on the pouch had to be removed as some seniors might find it superstitious, explained Richard. Also, they didn’t want it sold as a first-aid kit. Instead, the elder pouch is now sold as a travel companion sporting images of a ship, aeroplane, train and home.
After all the back and forth, the confirmed items in the pouch include a fever strip, a knee guard, a distress alarm, a box of plasters, wet wipes, antiseptic swabs, a plastic magnifier, a seven-day medicine pill box, a torchlight, a disposable poncho and blanket, and an emergency call list where seniors can add eight important phone numbers.
The elder pouch, which will cost S$28, will be available this month and will be sold by Silver Spring to those over 50 or to those younger who want to purchase it for their parents. Richard shared that his efforts will be remunerated, as a percentage of the profits will go to him and James, as well as Silver Spring.
He enjoyed working on the product so much that he hopes he can be a part of future products by Silver Spring. Asked what satisfaction he gained in coming up with the elder pouch, the father of two had this to say: “If I see anyone carrying the pouch, I would be happy.”