When we reach old age, walking sticks become an integral part of our lives, serving as essential tools for mobility. You may know of an elderly person who also relies on walking sticks. Surprisingly, only about 10% of the population uses walking sticks, as there is a stigma attached to them among the elderly. This led to the creation of Smart Walking Sticks by Mr. Tan Lee Tuan, the founder of AgeGracefully.
Driven by a sense of purpose, Mr. Tan Lee Tuan established Bekind Solutions to bring vibrancy to the lives of the elderly. With experience working with people from over 40 countries, gained through his career in the furniture design field, he aims to leverage his global expertise and combine his knowledge in Design, Engineering, and Marketing to develop innovative products that enhance the quality of life for the elderly. His ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of other elderly individuals, enabling them to live comfortably.
What is your company’s mission and vision? How did you start out with the idea of making such versatile walking sticks?
My passion lies in assisting the elderly. Given my background in product development and sales, I believe I possess valuable experience and knowledge in this field. Hence, I conceived the idea of AgeGracefully to aid the elderly in product development. Limited financial resources led me to focus on creating affordable and compact solutions, allowing me to start with a more realistic approach. Additionally, I believe that walking sticks are an ideal product to work on, considering their practicality and relevance for the elderly.
Were there any challenges that you faced when you first started out with selling your walking sticks?
Since I didn’t have any prior experience in the eldercare and healthcare industry before starting AgeGracefully, I had to start from scratch and learn everything from the ground up. Previously, my work was focused on the marine engineering sector. Consequently, I had to seek out individuals who could help me understand the intricacies of this industry, which was initially a major obstacle for me. Additionally, I volunteered at St. Luke’s Elder Care to gain further insights into the everyday challenges faced by the elderly.
What do you wish for users to feel/do when they receive the walking stick?
I believe that many older individuals perceive a walking stick as something exclusively for the disabled or elderly, and they would rather not be associated with such a stigma. However, the use of a walking stick extends beyond a few specific situations. For example, elderly individuals may use a walking stick to stabilize themselves, particularly if their medications affect their judgment. In such cases, relying on a walking stick becomes necessary for mobility.
Walking sticks also provide support to individuals with physical injuries that impact their ability to walk. Unfortunately, due to the prevalent stigma of being labeled as “handicapped” or “old,” many elderly individuals choose to stay home instead of venturing out. This choice severely limits their social interactions and lifestyle.
With AgeGracefully, I aim to assist them in overcoming this stigma by fostering confidence in using a walking stick. This way, they can enhance their mobility, engage in social interactions, and maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise. Prolonged periods of staying at home can lead to social isolation, which can have detrimental effects on the mental health of the elderly.
How do you think the stigma of using walking sticks can be further reduced with the concept of age gracefully walking sticks?
Our walking sticks stand out with their unique features that aim to enhance the product’s appeal. I place great emphasis on the design and the incorporation of essential safety features to encourage more users to opt for our walking sticks instead of using improper support aids like umbrellas. These walking sticks come equipped with MP3 players and an automatic fall alarm that alerts others in case the user falls and needs assistance.
How would you imagine your cause/company to be like in the near future?
I wish for greater control over our development direction, enabling us to create eldercare products that prioritize lifestyle over basic needs. This will inject vibrancy into their lives while enhancing their overall quality of life. Even with simple designs and functionality, these products can bring joy to their lives when they use them.
How would you want to further encourage our readers to consider getting these walking sticks to the elderly/people who need them in their lives?
Typically, we encourage buyers to consider gifting walking sticks to older adults. Even if they already have one, the new walking stick can be seen as an “upgrade” with added features. It would be a thoughtful gift, especially for seniors to make use of during their later years.
Do you know someone who could benefit from the gift of mobility? Take the time to talk to them and present them with a walking stick by AgeGracefully. It will enable them to fully embrace life, walk through joyful moments, and create lasting memories together.