In the living room, non-year-old Françoise Thémire, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, watches the television news with her roommate Omar, a student, before going to lunch together. Since January, they have been living in a new shared apartment, designed as an alternative to nursing homes, in Haÿ-les-Roses (Val-de-Marne).
Françoise, Marie-Pierre and Salvatore, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, moved three weeks ago to this bright pavilion, decorated with stained glass and located about ten kilometers south of Paris, where they each have their room, their belongings and have the freedom to carry out their daily occupations. Coincidence: their move took place the week of the publication of the book research “Les Fossoyeurs”, which exposed the abuse in many nursing homes.
“What I like here is to live in peace, because I am at home”confides Françoise with a candid smile, elegantly dressed in a golden-yellow cardigan. “I like the garden, I live normally and there is a lot to do, like in an apartment”continues the non-year-old, who met Omar, a 39-year-old Colombian student, there.
” He is nice “said Françoise.
Arriving in France in September, Omar Nino is housed against duty in the shared apartment: he has to be present six evenings a week to support the carer if necessary. He chose to invest more. “We often talk about Parisian customs with Françoise. I am going for a walk on the market with Marie-Pierre”.
This promise of a daily life open to the outside, far from the “confinement” of nursing homes, enlightens Agathe Charnet, Marie-Pierre’s daughter.
“It’s Her Home”
Since discovering her mother’s early illness in 2018, Agathe has been looking for ” a solution “ so that this “Live your illness with dignity”maize “started to despair” having to put her in a medical institution – a measure “super drastic”†
“There I have the feeling that she has found a place where she is good, where she is at home”AFP confides in the young woman of 30 years. “It’s a bit of a special ‘home’, with carers there to look after her, but there’s no white coat, no medical bed”†
Right away “real spirit of shared accommodation”† “They prepare the meals together, we don’t have to register to come for lunch. If my mother wants to come and sleep at my house, she comes to sleep with me, if we want to go on vacation, we go on vacation… It’s with her”.
At home, even if it is sometimes Marie-Pierre ” do not know “ if his room upstairs really belongs to him.
“For people with Alzheimer’s, who get lost, going to nursing homes, in a big structure, will be a lot of disorientation”explains Clément Saint Olive, co-founder of the company “Community Goods”at the origin of this colocation.
“The Whirlwind of Life”
“The advantage of a small house, with eight roommates, is that we rediscover the codes and standards by which we have lived. We know the people, the corners of the house »explains Clément Saint Olive, who has a similar project in Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine).
In L’Haÿ-les-Roses, the current housemates pay between 2,000 and 3,500 euros net per month, depending on the help received.
A ‘Council of Housemates’ – a Whatsapp group and meetings with families, the residential counselor, the student and a treating doctor – helps to organize life together.
For the host, Isabelle Vignaud, it has nothing to do with her early career in Ehpad: “a deathbed”where people “deteriorating very quickly”explains the 59-year-old professional.
“Here we have time to understand the personality of the patients”rejoices the caretaker Néné Djouhe Diallo, 29 years.
To please Marie-Pierre, the assistants broadcast her favorite music. Dalida and Jeanne Moreau invited the roommate.
When the first notes resonate, Marie-Pierre stiffens. Hands in her pockets, the air of nothingness, the fifty-year-old hums in a clear voice: “It is the whirlwind of life…”
“My mother loves to sing and dance, it is her love in life”, Agathe laughs. “Even if we know that the disease is driving her towards more and more dependence, I have the impression that she is living a new life here, rather than an end of life.”