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Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness


A postman of French postal service company La Poste distributes letters using an electrically-assisted bicycle in Vertou, France, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe - RC1D3F2A3F00
A La Poste postman on his daily route.
Image: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

While we’re living longer, not everyone is living healthier and happier lives – and many countries are struggling to look after an increasingly lonely, ageing population.
By 2050, it’s predicted that more than a quarter of people in France (20 million) will be aged 65 and over, as women are expected to live to 90 and men to 87.

But the country has come up with a unique way of catering to the needs of its elderly, while enabling them to remain living in their own homes.
Image: Insee
Mail workers for the French postal service La Poste are being paid to pop in on elderly people on a weekly basis, before sending updates to concerned relatives.
Called Veiller Sur Mes Parents (watch over my parents), the service costs from 19.90 euros ($22.50) a month and includes a weekly visit and report, as well as a monthly personalized newsletter made from family messages and photos the post worker prints out.
There’s also a 24-hour helpline available as part of a second, more expensive package.
Solving two problems
The service started in May 2017 as a way of tackling two issues: an annual drop of 5% in the amount of mail meaning less work for France’s 73,000 postal workers, and the rise of the ageing population.
But the idea came about following a heatwave.
“We first thought of it a few years ago when city halls called on us to pay a visit to the elderly during a heatwave,” Eric Baudrillard, customer services director at La Poste told Vice News. “They were worried and asked us to check if everything was OK with the old people. And we thought, why can’t we do it all the time?”
France’s ageing population
Image: Statista
Some 6,000 seniors are using the service, aged between 82 and 98 – often paid for by their 50-something children living miles away in cities.
France already offers similar schemes, which are paid for by local councils, including medicines and groceries being delivered and books brought from the library.

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