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More countries should adopt this great French idea.

“It’s lovely to see the postman as I don’t usually see anyone else all week,” says 81-year-old Janine. She’s enjoying a French postal service initiative that’s helping elderly people living in isolation far from relatives.

Under the scheme, called “Watch over my parents” (Veiller sur mes parents), families can pay from €20 a month for postmen and postwomen to check on their parents during morning rounds. The home visits can be weekly or more frequent with reports delivered back to the family. Additional services such as a 24-hour helpline and alert system are available.

Janine lives in the Vaucluse region of southern France: her husband died years ago, and her daughters live 600 kilometres away in Paris. “They worry that I’m on my own in the middle of nowhere,” she says. Visited by postman Nicolas Dezeure, she relishes their 15-minute Monday morning chats in her kitchen.

“She knows loads about me!” says Dezeure, who messages Janine’s daughters after his visits.

“People are living longer,” observes Eric Baudrillard, head of new strategy at the French postal service. “More want to stay in their own homes for as long as they can.”

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