Watch over your Parents (or Grandparents!)

If you have an elderly relative living alone in France and too far away to visit regularly, you may worry about their health and well-being, in which case you may be interested to find out about a way to keep an eye on things.

La Poste have decided to diversify and use their unique position to offer a new service to customers. The service is aimed at vulnerable elderly people often living at home, alone. French postal workers already visit their homes weekly, if not daily, so La Poste have developed a new service in partnership with Europ Téléassistance.

Postal workers have been specially trained by le gérontopôle (an organisation that coordinates activities that contribute to the quality of life of the elderly) to befriend and monitor elderly people in their homes. Relatives often living long distances away in France or abroad, can now pay for services where the postal worker will pop in and chat to the elderly person and be on hand to take any actions if something is wrong or needs attention.

The service is called ‘Veiller sur mes parents‘ (‘Watch over my Parents) and can be commissioned by anyone anywhere in the world, provided their elderly relative is living in France. There must also be an identified person living nearby who can be contacted if necessary.

The postal workers will stop by and have a short chat while on their daily rounds, and have an agreed list of questions to ask about health and well-being. The family member who commissioned the service will then receive an electronic update after the visit to confirm all is well.

It is hoped that the service may help elderly people to retain their autonomy, staying in their own homes, rather than needing expensive care services. It will also help avoid isolation and contribute to the social life of the elderly.

The services offered are:

  • ‘Watch over my parents’ where the postal worker makes regular visits to your elderly relative between 1 to 6 times a week. This includes a 24/7 support service. Starting from €19.90 per month.
  • A 24/7 support service. With connected equipment installed at home, the elderly person is never alone – even outside the postal worker’s visits. They can contact the tele-assistance teams at any time for an alert, a question or just a call for a chat. The tele-assistance team will talk to the person assess the situation and if necessary, will warn the designated trusted person(s) and can call for help.
  • Breakdown of equipment at home. In the event of a breakdown of equipment e.g. phone not working, there is an additional service where the postal worker will alert Europ Téléassistance who will coordinate support.

It can be sensitive and difficult to initiate a discussion with the person about home help and tele-assistance and involving them in the selection of the solution is often the best way. La Poste offer some advice on how best to broach the subject and get the person’s agreement to using the services.

You can sign up for ‘Veiller sur mes parents‘ online on La Poste website or by telephone (+33) 1 41 85 97 91 (Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 19:00 excluding public holidays).

You can also seek advice from English-speaking support groups which include ageing population issues, for the expat community in the Angloinfo French Riviera Business Directory.