Introducing Sakhi4Life: a unique service for elders living alone in Chennai
In conversation with Suchint Murali, co-founder of Sakhi4life, a company focused on supporting and assisting elders living alone.
What is Sakhi4Life?
The word Sakhi means a companion. Someone who’s there for you. Whenever you need them. Sakhi4Life, aims to be a one-stop support system for seniors living alone. Sakhi Counsellors help elders with everything they need to live their life – from daily chores to managing payments, to legal, medical, technical, financial or government requirements to interacting with vendors and house help on their behalf, and most of all, being there just to talk to whenever they need.
How it works? Share some success stories?
Like the octogenarian who had been gifted a smartphone by his daughter who got exasperated trying to teach him how to use it. When he called us, he explained that all he needed was someone who could show him how to operate the phone, without losing patience. We agreed to help, and sent our Sakhi executive, who taught him the basics of how to operate the phone. The smile on his face at the end of it made our day.
Then there was the elderly Chennai resident who desperately wanted to attend a family wedding in Hyderabad, but could not do so without a companion who would accompany him for the journey and back. We made sure that he didn’t miss the wedding. And that he returned home safe and sound. And happy.
Most people assume that the main problem faced by the elderly is usually medical in nature. Like the elderly couple where the husband needs regular dialysis. His wife, otherwise fit, found it difficult to traipse up and down the hospital corridors paying bills and filling out the paperwork. Today, our Sakhi executive takes him to the hospital, takes care of the paperwork, and brings him back home when done. The wife stays at home, getting the house disinfected, and ensuring that it is ready for him when he returns.
But there’s a deadlier disease called loneliness, one that kills you slowly and painfully. Sakhi4life offers a highly effective remedy for this. They’re called Sakhi Companions. Our Companions regularly spend time reading to the elders, listen to them reminisce about their life and times, take them out to watch plays, musical programs, or perhaps even a trip to the beach. In some cases, this also gives their children some relief and time to themselves.
While all this sounds nice and cheerful, the elephant in the room is of course trust. How can we trust you?
Having looked after our own elderly parents, grandparents, and parents in law ourselves, we had the same problem. How could we trust an outsider to give them the same care and attention that we could provide? Could we trust them enough to leave them alone in the house with our elders?
This is why we run extensive background checks before appointing a Sakhi Counsellor, Sakhi Executive, or Companion. Many of them look after elders in their own homes too. They are now almost like our extended family. More importantly, we ensure that we, the three founders, are available 24/7 to both, you and them to address any gap in service.
So far, we’ve not had a single complaint.