The New Yorker: In France, Elder Care Comes with the Mail

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In a sense, Watch Over My Parents was created by accident. The service began in 2013, after a heat wave, when a number of overburdened city halls asked their local post offices to check on vulnerable and elderly residents. Éric Baudrillard, the director of V.S.M.P., told me that there has always been a “natural link between the French and their postal workers.”…

La Poste, which became a public-private hybrid in 2010, is adapting to changing conditions. It must continue to fulfill its mandate of uniform delivery to every address in France. But where, a decade ago, La Poste delivered eighteen billion letters, it now delivers less than ten billion…

Postal unions have challenged La Poste for monetizing an activity that was once done for free; they also argue that the fee is exclusionary, barring those who might benefit most from the service but cannot afford it. La Poste, in turn, sees V.S.M.P. as a way to standardize and preserve an admirable tradition that has come under threat.

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