Growing Old in France – Not so Cool

Maybe you remember the story of the French woman who lived well over 100 years old (her 120s, I believe). She had sold an option on her apartment – which means that a person has the option to buy the apartment when an elderly person either moves to a nursing home or passes on. The option to buy is usually at a very low price. In exchange, the option buyer pays the the owner a stipend each month as part of the option payment. This was an extraordinary story because this woman from Provence outlived her option buyer – his children were responsible to keep up his part of the bargain.

Even though France has a great social program for doctors and medicine, it’s not necessarily much better than the US when it comes to care for the elderly. This we’ve learned from a friend who’s mother is 96 years old. She still lives at home, but she needs a great deal of assistance. 300 Euros a month is her income. Although her apartment rent is subsidized, she doesn’t have enough money left to cover the costs for at home assistance. She may receive public assistance for approximately half an hour 3 times a day. Any of you who have a parent living at home who needs assistance, you’ll know that this is bare survival minimum.




If our friend’s mom has to go into a nursing home eventually, the state will pay for half of the expensive, and the only son will be responsible for the other half of the cost. If he cannot afford to pay, he could even be asked to sell his own apartment. If he can’t afford to pay, then his children will have to pay.

Meanwhile nursing homes are being built in France, but no staff is available to work in the homes, because in spite of the so called ‘unemployment’ crisis, no want really wants these jobs. Voila the great dilemma – as France’s baby boomer generation becomes the ‘graying’ generation, where will all these grey folks go? And will their children – if they have any want to pay for them?