'A collective denial': Why are France's elderly treated so badly?

This is interesting and slightly disturbing if you are getting older. I’m not yet 50 so not thinking about my care in old age just yet. However, I know that many of you are reaching an age where you will need to think about this.

What would you do if you found yourself alone and unwell? Would you return to the UK? Would you consider a French maison de retraite? Have you even thought about it?

My hubby is retired and very unwell but, unlike in the UK, there is no equivalent of Carers Allowance or Attendance Allowance. I can’t work anymore and my allocation from Pôle Emploi will finish in October. After that we will struggle financially. Hubby is entitled to allocation personnalisée d’autonomie but this just entitles him to help with housework, meal preparation, shopping etc etc. While this is welcome (and I’m very grateful to our lovely aide à domicile) it won’t pay the electricity bill or car insurance. I have to say, though, our MT has been wonderful and he is receiving exemplary medical care.

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Possibly the same reason why the British system finds ways to treat the elderly badly…Saving money for the rich and famous.

In our commune… everyone fights to stay at home for as long as possible… and that includes the family, the elderly person and the medics involved.

The local Retirement Home is seen as last resort… before Death… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

However, when I visit folk in the RH, I am pleased to see it bright and welcoming… and the Staff are amazing. So many “inmates” suffer Alzheimer or similar… looking after them cannot be easy.

For myself and OH… the plan is to stay in our home as long as we possibly can. The previous lady turned one of the downstairs rooms into a bed-sitting room…even put a toilet in… (:roll_eyes:) don’t ask where it went… :zipper_mouth_face::face_with_raised_eyebrow:

and we could easily manage something similar. No need to go upstairs, shutting of those bits we could no longer cope with… also making it cheaper to heat etc.

That’s the vague plan… no idea what the reality will be… :relaxed::relaxed:


Mandy… @fabien is helping us reduce our insurance costs… health care/cars etc… perhaps he can help you. As far as I am concerned, every euro saved is a godsend.


Good plan Stella.

My friend is an aide soignante and has worked in several of these places. From what she tells us I’m not surprised that so many residents are depressed.

From what I’ve seen of a couple of uk retirement homes, most of the people have some form of dementia, depression etc, so I don’t imagine it’s much different here.
We are too young to think about it (I hope) so don’t even have a vague plan. Hope I’m not saying the same thing when it’s too late! It’s not far to the cliffs…

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If you aren’t working then the assumption may well be that you are supposed to look after your husband, I don’t know how it works but it would be easy to imagine that a person under retirement age, not working , could look after an older ill spouse. Grim. Why can’t you work any more? Could you do a different job?

My hubby needs constant care now so I need to be at home with him. Your word describes it perfectly. It’s grim.

I think things are going to improve… This is the latest report from the CCNN (Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique)… dated 16th May 2018.

Rather long and involved, but it talks about the many efforts being made and yet to be made… ( improvements across the board)… including " Contribuer à la dé-ghettoïsation des personnes âgées"


Book an appointment with the assistante sociale and go through everything you can get help with, make a dossier. I am worried that not working at all in order to look after your husband might put you into a difficult position, if you can’t get it validated as work for pension purposes. Would a part-time job be possible?
I mean for your pension later.


Great advice Vero, thank you. I have visited our local assistante sociale before and there is nothing available to us that we don’t already have. However, this was a few years ago so I am going to do this again. We are using the services of Resopalid and are waiting for an appointment with their assistante sociale.

thanks for bringing up this difficult subject. a couple of years ago i used to visit our elders in a EHPAD twice a week it was very sad to see these old people just sitting in their wheelchair or even tied up or just lying in their bed looking at the ceiling waiting for the end to come. of course my OH and i talk about what we will do if we cant look after ourselves .Certainly not in a Residence too expensive, an Ehpad 2800 euros per month.we would have to sell our house ,one needs to organse the future up to the end yes it is a difficult situation i agree:

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I think I would prefer a one way ticket to Switzerland :switzerland::syringe::coffin::fire:


Strangely enough… when one is faced with making such a decision… it is not always that easy…

I speak from experience within my own family. At the beginning of her terminal illness, my mother talked longingly about setting herself free… and then, perhaps only days later, she would be on a different tack… saying how glad she was that she was still alive “because they might yet find a cure”…:hugs::thinking::relaxed:


Yes, Stella, I share your experience in that respect. After decades of hospice work and working with people facing death in the community with not much support, very few have a persisting wish to be helped to die, although some do occasionally ask a nurse (seldom a doctor) to give them something to finish them off. Next day they are enjoying a cup of tea.

This phenomenon is well-attested, and does make assisted dying problematic.

There are circumstances under which I might provide assistance, and it’s easier for me now that I no longer practice professionally, and my age would possibly mitigate my sentence, if convicted.

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For some reason I can’t really see myself growing old here…I have this vague notion that the deciding factor would probably be once I’m not able to drive…I look at my next door neighbour who is 85 still driving and keeping an immaculate garden…still got all his marbles although to my shame I can have a conversation over the fence and not know what on Earth we were talking about…The worse scenario for me personally is the end stages of Alzheimer’s…having seen it I know I wouldn’t want to be kept alive like that…but I guess it would take some serious advanced planning in the form of powers of attorney etc to enable my kids to take me to Switzerland…for now though I make the most of each day here and am looking forwards to visits from my kids starting next week…x :slight_smile:

I was very surprised to read this information about poor care for the elderly. I am a member of a choir and have sung in two local maisons de retraite and was very impressed, particularly with the staff and the amount of activities available for the residents. Recently our next door neighbour was admitted to the local retirement home after a stroke and I asked her if she would like our choir to visit. I spoke to the home’s ‘animation’ organiser who said she would be happy with that but they had so much organised already that it couldn’t be before September.


My personal experience is also good. An elderly relative collapsed during the Easter of 2017 and was taken to hospital. There he was found to be very weak, his immune system had all but shut down, his leukemia critical and his family were told that he’d only survived because he had a pacemaker, fitted 10 years previously. He was given a blood transfusion and chemotherapy started. All was tense for a couple of weeks as he was in intensive care and allowed only two visitors a day in a sterile environment. His health gradually improved and his family were told that he was being placed in end of life care. His family arranged for him to be cared for at home and were given a lot of support setting up his bedroom at home and he was cared for by a team of nurses who visited at set times during the day and was regularly transported to hospital for out patient appointments. He died 10 months later in his 90th year. He and his family were so pleased that he had been able to spend his final months at home. The care that he received was excellent.


A great testimony to health and social care provision at an exemplary standard. One wonders why some agencies are able to deliver care like this, and others seem to fall short. I myself have no explanation for this anomaly, but it is surely something that should be researched?

I have a hunch that it may have something to do with the way people are able to express their need, so that care-delivery agencies respond positively and comprehensively. Is it a class or educational divide? Again, I don’t know, but it’s my suspicion that social status does play a part, and that people who rank lower in the social scale may come off worse than their better-heeled counterparts. What do you think yourself?

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“Lying in their beds and looking up at the ceiling”…Is that any worse, than being in that condition on one’s own at home ?..I think not…if someone is bedridden and cannot do very much at all to maintain themselves at least in a nice home there will be others in a similar age & situation to talk/interact with, the hum of activity and life of people coming and going. in the best places there will be some entertainment/activities…or one could be instrumental in helping to lay that one…why not be that pro-active ? As well as that, the responsibility of caring is shared by a number of people, rather than being delegated to (what is often the case) the unmarried family member who everyone presumes, doesn’t have any other responsibilities or plans/dreams for their own future…