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Emoha puts love and tech to work for elder-care

Mala Bhargava | Updated on April 03, 2021

A platform that pulls in simple technologies to reach in and make everyday living more comfortable and safe for the elderly

The Covid pandemic has come along and added layers of challenges and loneliness to one vulnerable group more than anyone has imagined: the elderly. As advancing age brings inevitable health problems and in some cases dementia that begins to interferes with proper self-care, the need for a helping hand that can reach right into the lives of elders and solve practical problems or indeed just be always available.

No family anywhere is probably unacquainted with the challenges of looking after the elderly, but in real life, not everyone is equipped to cope with the very specific needs that come up or even fully understands how to do so. It’s to address this under-served need that a small group of entrepreneurs formed a platform they called Emoha (inclusive of the word moh for love) to see how they could use technology to make life safer and easier for the elderly. But Emoha is a technology startup that isn’t really about the technology. It’s a service platform that’s housed in an app, but extends far beyond it and pulls in existing third party solutions to reach out to the elderly living alone or even within families who are overwhelmed with how to manage their needs.

Among the founders is Sama Beg, who is the Chief Product Officer for Emoha and who designed the programme after her experience of trying to remotely look after her parents who lived in Kashmir while she was working with assisted living homes for Alzheimer’s patients in the US. A ‘moment of epiphany’ brought her back to India to start Emoha in 2019, as it turned out, just ahead of the pandemic. “We saw a huge gap in addressing the problems of those who want to age in place,” says Sama. “The market looks at an elder with solutions that involve either moving into a residential care facility or hiring a nursing attendant in times of a healthcare crisis.” She and her group of co-founders decided to leverage technology to provide practical solutions for everyday life as well as, perhaps as importantly, ‘be there’ for the elderly. Rather than focus on the fancy footwork of technology may be capable of, they used existing and simple solutions to reach right into the daily lives of the elderly.

Virtual daughter

The Emoha platform is housed within an app, available on iOS and Android as more people in this group have adopted mobile phones than before. Joining up is extremely simple as is the interface of the app. Enter a few essential details and choose a plan. The ₹999 per month plan called Empower, creates an ‘envelope of care’ around the client. It involves emergency coordination, a 24/7 helpdesk, regular care calls via a ‘virtual daughter,’ and interactive activities on Zoom that clients apparently thoroughly enjoy. Clients have online parties, extend friendships offline, get someone checking on them regularly, and are able to live life more comfortably because of it. The Emoha app is full of resources and tutorials that are easy to access and go through and include everything from learning balance exercises to virtual tombola. In case of an emergency, help can be organised, a contingency for which detailed mapping of the person’s living space and contacts and emergency services will take place.

Deep intervention

The Assure plan, for ₹6,000 a month, is much more personalised and interventionist looking at all the needs of the elderly person. Sensors of various kinds are used to carefully track health parameters. For now, Dozee, a vitals and sleep tracking device, is used, but smart watches are a planned aspect as well. There are also trackers that can be worn like a necklace and immediately alert the care team if a client wanders off, as often can happen in Alzheimer’s conditions. Panic buttons are also available. There are also sensors for detecting smoke, gas leaks, intruders etc that can be deployed to make sure the everyday living situation is safe and that the person has physical help if needed or for emergencies. In fact there are Emoha first responders who can be dispatched to the client’s location.

What catches one’s attention about this technology enabled set of solutions is that the focus is truly on challenges and tackling them practically, looking for whatever technology helps make it happen. Emoha has a team of carers and volunteers and has actually broken even on its investments.

Published on April 03, 2021

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