Half a million elderly people live in isolation in France - report

A resident walks down a corridor on March 4, 2020, in an EHPAD.
A resident walks down a corridor on March 4, 2020, in an EHPAD. © AFP/Loïc Venance

A French organisation has warned about the increasing isolation of elderly people. Research released during the week, showed that some  elderly people could go weeks, or even months, without receiving a visit or a phone call. There are now 530,000 compared to 300,000 in 2017.


More and more elderly people are victims of "social death", according to the organisation Les Petits Frères des Pauvres, which published its annual report the day before the International Day of Older Persons, scheduled on Friday 1 October. 

There are now 530,000 elderly who never meet their relatives, family, friends or neighbours, almost twice as many as in 2017. 

This issue has been accentuated by the demographic transition and growing precariousness, particularly since the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Covid, low pensions

As a result of health restrictions, the number of elderly that have been isolated from their family and friends has more than doubled in four years (+122%): 900,000 in 2017. There is now almost two million such cases.

One in five of those surveyed has no, or almost no, friendships, three times more than four years ago. 

With very low pensions, more and more elderly people can no longer afford to go to the cinema, to restaurants or to travel. Most of those who are "socially dead" earn less than 1,000 euros per month.

Prioritising activities

Among the recommendations made by the report are prioritising outdoor activities to fight loss of autonomy and isolation, producing official data on the issue and experimenting with an alert system to identify situations of "social death". 

On Friday, the organisation launched an awareness-raising campaign that included a film on isolation aids to connect elderly people with the outside world.

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