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My wife and I will be moving to Charente sometime during 2010.

Our house is currently for sale in the UK and we have found a house we like in Charente, we can buy it outright and still have a little nest egg, so all looks good..... however

I am 57, and my wife will retire in February at 62, but her mother is 89. Although she is a bit wobbly on her legs she has all her marbles (at least as much as you can hope for at 89). My question is, if she moves to France with us, can anybody tell me please what social care we can expect (if any) to help as she gets older. The thought of advancing dementia/incontinence etc worries us slightly.

Having had a couple of falls in the last year she needs 24 hour care (she struggles to get into bed for one thing), and of course we are not getting any younger.

Any help / advice would be much appreciated.


Steve
 

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I'm not sure of the details, but I know someone in similar straits who just brought their mother of 92 over from the US. According to the research she did, her mother could be included as a dependent on their sécu enrollment - however they have been living and working in France for 30 years.

You mother has the advantage of being eligible for the EHIC, essentially a transfer into the French system, based on her age and her prior coverage in the UK. This is the page on Service Public that gives information about social services available to the elderly in France: Aides sociales aux personnes âgées - Service-public.fr It's all in French, but you're going to have to start coping with that if you move over here.

One thing I will bring up, though. The American woman I know is finding that it maybe wasn't such a great idea to have brought her mother over here - and they are thinking of sending her back in the spring, either to assisted living or possibly to a nursing home.

What she didn't consider when making this big move was what her mother was going to do all day. She can't really watch television, cause it's all in French. She can't really get much in the way of English language magazines or books to read, and there are very few activities available in English in which Mom can take part - and this is in the Paris area. In Charente, there will be much less available in English.

Consider, too, that most health care workers in France will not speak English, and I can attest to the fact that it's very stressful having to use a foreign language when you are hospitalized, even if you speak the language passably well. If your mother doesn't speak French, you may want to consider other options for her care.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure of the details, but I know someone in similar straits who just brought their mother of 92 over from the US. According to the research she did, her mother could be included as a dependent on their sécu enrollment - however they have been living and working in France for 30 years.

You mother has the advantage of being eligible for the EHIC, essentially a transfer into the French system, based on her age and her prior coverage in the UK. This is the page on Service Public that gives information about social services available to the elderly in France It's all in French, but you're going to have to start coping with that if you move over here.

One thing I will bring up, though. The American woman I know is finding that it maybe wasn't such a great idea to have brought her mother over here - and they are thinking of sending her back in the spring, either to assisted living or possibly to a nursing home.

What she didn't consider when making this big move was what her mother was going to do all day. She can't really watch television, cause it's all in French. She can't really get much in the way of English language magazines or books to read, and there are very few activities available in English in which Mom can take part - and this is in the Paris area. In Charente, there will be much less available in English.

Consider, too, that most health care workers in France will not speak English, and I can attest to the fact that it's very stressful having to use a foreign language when you are hospitalized, even if you speak the language passably well. If your mother doesn't speak French, you may want to consider other options for her care.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev, that is helpful.

My wife is fluent in French and I am reasonably competent, so the language is less of an issue for us. What I didn't mention is that my wife's mother is also "Partially sighted", (although she manages to watch Eastenders without much of a problem). :)

I think we would be able to get most english tv channels (other ex-pats seem to get them okay), so that wouldn't be a problem. We wouldn't consider leaving her here in England when we move, but don't want to be here for what could be another ten years or something (that sounds awful, but I can't find a better way to express it).

Thanks for the help

Steve
 

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Thanks Bev, that is helpful.

My wife is fluent in French and I am reasonably competent, so the language is less of an issue for us. What I didn't mention is that my wife's mother is also "Partially sighted", (although she manages to watch Eastenders without much of a problem). :)

I think we would be able to get most english tv channels (other ex-pats seem to get them okay), so that wouldn't be a problem. We wouldn't consider leaving her here in England when we move, but don't want to be here for what could be another ten years or something (that sounds awful, but I can't find a better way to express it).
While I can understand your desire not to leave UK without your mother-in-law, I think she will be much better off from the point of view of care, language, familiarity etc to stay in UK and being cared for there. If her assets (saving) is £23,000 or less, the local authority will start contributing to her care home fees (it can be £400 to £500 a week average) and if her needs are more medical rather than personal, then NHS will pick up the tab in certain circumstances. You will have the assurance of knowing she will be well cared for (if you take the trouble to find the right home for her needs), and she will only a short flight or a day's drive away whenever you want to visit. It will also be much more convenient for other relatives and friends too.
What does she really want? Would she really like living in a French care or nursing home (unless you are going to devote 24 hours a day to her care) where little English is spoken, with unfamilar food and ways of doing things and little chance of making friends (unless her French is fluent), or stay in familiar surroundings. If she feels up to it, you can always bring her over to France for a holiday during the warmer months.
While a lot of elderly people have retired abroad successfully and enjoy a good healthy lifestyle, once personal care needs become an issue, most would rather return to UK. If your m-in-l is already at that stage, it would seem prudent to stay in UK. I'm speaking from experience as someone who has recently dealt with the issues of care for an elderly relative.
 

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Let me second Joppa's response. One of the reasons I'm "involved" with this American woman and her 92 year old Mum is that I just lost my father last year, and at one point there were similar concerns and considerations about "should we bring him to live with us in France?"

Elderly people do not adapt very well to a major change in location - on all sorts of levels. Chances are she'll be even more confused when she gets to France than she is now. Add to that, about the only thing she'll be able to do is to watch television (assuming you can get Sky or whatever), which is certainly no better than what she'd have in a mediocre nursing home in the UK. At least in the UK, she has the option of "bonding" with other patients or with staff members and hopefully some level of group activities. In France, she will be completely dependent on you and your wife for company and for security (not to mention entertainment).

If she gets stuck in an "emergency" situation where neither of you is around, how will she cope? If she wanders off (always a possibility) she won't be able to communicate with police or rescue people. And one of you will always have to be with her for doctor's visits or hospitalizations.

There is also the difference in food, medicine and ideas about treatment to contend with. I spent my first two years in France with vague stomach problems I later figured out were due to the change in diet. I expect that would be far more difficult at age 89 or 92.

I also had some dealing with the local "maison de retraite" recently, due to my seeing a kiné who practices out of the therapy room there. If your mother were to need that type of care, she is going to be very isolated if she doesn't speak the language and has to put up with "foreign" care and treatment on her own. (I admit I'm not looking forward to being put in there when I'm old and gray - the thought of having to speak French all the time like that just depresses me.)

I monitored my father for a good 4 or 5 years at distance. You can get a local Skype number in the UK so that she can call you as much as she likes. You can handle her finances via the Internet. And you'll only be a few hours away if you need or want to go back and visit her. I could only manage twice a year, due to the distance, expense and time involved. But in the long run, I think my father was much better off in familiar surroundings, with people he could communicate with. You should also consider what you're going to do when she eventually dies. Customs between the two countries are very different and shipping bodies internationally is something of a nightmare.

No, he didn't like the nursing home, but one wise administrator admitted that no one wants to be in a care home. We could not have cared for him here, even with in home help, and I was very aware of how isolated and dependent he would be on the two of us.

But you have to do what you have to do, and obviously you know your situation better than any of us can. You don't want to sit waiting in the UK for her to die so you can move to France, and you very possibly don't have to.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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