For six years the elderly woman's bills were paid automatically, her pension arrived by wire transfer and no family, friends or neighbours realized she had disappeared.
But on Tuesday firefighters in the northern French city of Rouen finally found the 70-year-old in her apartment, where she had lain dead since 2008.
The only reason fire crews discovered her remains was because of a complaint from a downstairs neighbour about a water leak. It led them to force the woman’s door open in order to shut off the water in her unit.
Police said they were still looking into whether the woman has any relatives and if so why they'd not contacted her in six years.
For her neighbours living in the same social housing (public housing) block as the woman, it was not such a shock that she could have been forgotten about for so long.
“It doesn’t surprise me. Here it’s everyone for themselves,” an unnamed resident told French daily Le Parisien.
The woman’s remains were discovered just a day after a charity group released a report saying France has an alarmingly high and rising number of elderly people living in isolation. Of the five million people living alone in France, 27 percent of them were over 75 years of age, which is an increase of ten percent from 2010, Fondation de France found.
“It’s an alarming progression and a time bomb,” the foundation’s Managing Director Francis Charhon told Le Parisien. “There is a real disintegration of social bonds, especially in cities. There are more and more elderly people whose only visitor is the postman and he brings only bills.”
Sadly, the case in Rouen is not an isolated one. The Local reported last year about a security guard whose remains went undiscovered in his apartment for eight years.
Overcome by personal, labour and financial problems he hanged himself with a bed sheet in his suburban Paris home. It was only after the place had been sold at auction and the new owner paid a visit, that the body was discovered in 2013.