The convergence of two significant societal changes in France has led to one unique solution. The first involves the country’s 73,000 postal workers, and the effect of digital communications. Letter delivery has been cut in half over the past 30 years, as more people connect online, so there’s less work for La Poste carriers. At the same time, people are living longer, and are often left home alone. It’s estimated that by 2050, more than one-fourth of the people in France will be over age 65, many well into their 80s. The solution? For a €19.90 monthly fee ($22.50 USD), France’s publicly-employed postal workers will check up on elderly customers along their routes on a weekly basis and compile updates for concerned relatives.
- About 6,000 seniors in rural areas were using the service in 2018, often paid for by 50-something children living miles away in cities. The average age of seniors in the program was estimated to be 82.
- The service -- called Veiller Sur Mes Parents, translated as “watch over my parents” -- began in 2017. The idea was triggered by a heat wave, when postal workers were asked to check up on older people along their routes.
- Since postal staff were already working in neighborhoods, their services for the elderly have since expanded. Postal workers deliver medicine, books from libraries, and even hot meals, often paid for by local programs.