By Kristina Morgan and Joelle
Boomers are going to experience a role reversal in caring for their aging
parents and will need help to provide care for them.
people are moving south of the border for more than sunshine and a slower pace
of living—they are coming to seek out assisted living or long-term care options
that are at least half the cost of care north of the border.
median cost for long-term care in the United States is $3,622.00 per
month. That’s $43,472 USD per year and many states are significantly higher,
according to the Genworth Financial 2009 Cost of Care Survey.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that about 70 percent of individuals over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care
services during their lifetime; and more than 40 percent will need care in a
nursing home for some period of time. If you’re paying privately for such care, it
will add up quickly—at an average of $120/day for assisted living and
$240/day for nursing homes!
What about Medicare and Medicaid?
Many people believe—wrongly—that Medicare will pay for long-term care. Medicare
pays only for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care under very specific
circumstances, following a hospital stay.
If you have an extremely low income and limited assets, and if you require a
nursing home level of care, Medicaid may pay for care either in your home or in
a nursing facility. But Medicaid does not pay for assisted living services if
that is all that is needed.
Care Reform is supposed to include an expansion of long-term care insurance,
which should not only improve access to nursing homes but also in-home care in
the U.S. but the details aren’t clear and it isn’t expected to go into effect
Living and nursing homes in Mexico
run roughly half—or less—than what
you would pay north of the border and also includes three home-cooked meals a
day. It is important to note that in Mexico the foods being used are
whole and fresh. Convenience foods are expensive and not the norm so in an
Assisted Living home in Mexico chances are you will be eating much better than
you would have north of the border.
With Lake Chapala
being one of the largest expat communities in the world, you might expect to
see Assisted Living and long-term care here facilities here...and you would be
right! At Focus on Mexico
we are often asked what is available here in our community and during the Focus on Mexico
program March 20-27, we had a chance to tour some of the homes. With us on the
program that week was Joelle Lau-Hansen, who owns and operates an Assisted
Living Facility in Venice, Florida, and has been in this business since
1994. She also does consulting for other homes. Since Joelle wanted to check
out what Lake Chapala
had to offer, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get her
professional opinion about the places we visited at Lake Chapala.
four Assisted Living homes. Two were in Ajijic, one was in San Antonio and one was in Riberas Del Pilar.
None of them were affiliated with any church, religion or political party. We
were both impressed with what we saw.
says, “All facilities were very clean, the staff was attentive. Prices were
much lower than in the US.
I would not hesitate to place my parents in any of these facilities. In Mexico doctors
make house calls, which is much better than to drag a sick elderly person to a
waiting room! And with email, it is easy to get reports on the well-being of
your loved ones, even if you travel a lot. Do not let fear of leaving your
aging parents behind prevent you from moving to Mexico!”
other facilities that we did not have time to visit but here is a sampling
of what is available here at Lake
home we visited was Abbeyfield. Established
in 2006, Abbeyfield Ajijic is the first Abbeyfield Home in Latin
America. I had been there before when I attended a seminar on
Fearless Aging. Abbeyfield is located in Ajijic on Privada Independencia #9,
facing the malecon or boardwalk so
there are beautiful lake views.
was created in England
in the 1950s as a non-profit independent-living home for men and women over age
65 who are still physically and mentally fit but no longer wish to live alone.
Abbeyfield is run by a committee of volunteers and only the house manager, maid
and gardener are paid employees.
has a solar-heated lap pool, as well as a nice garden area.
four suites in the main house that have a bedroom and bathroom and run $10,000
pesos, which at today’s exchange rate comes in at about $817 USD per month.
has four private casitas that run $16,000 pesos a month or roughly $1300 USD and
are small, private bungalows.
assessment: “Abbey Field is a gorgeous Independent Living Facility right on Lake Chapala.
The bedrooms are comfortable, some bigger than others, some
"cottage-like," meals are included in the monthly fee. The common
areas are spacious and well appointed.
also has opportunities for people who want to volunteer. If you would like more
information, contact Brian Howard email@example.com
(or firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 376-766-2045 or cell (045) 331-705-1629 if you are local or visit their website at http://www.abbeyfield-ajijic.org
Alicia’s Nursing Home
went to Alicia’s Nursing Home. The
largest facility in the Lake
Chapala area, Alicia’s
has three homes that offer assistance to the elderly on three levels: Assisted
Living for nine residents, Middle-Care for nine more residents and Full-Care
for eight residents. Alicia’s also offers end-of-life care. We visited the
Assisted Living home located in La Floresta, a beautiful old neighborhood with
a large, older home where Alejandro Mejilla, Alicia’s son welcomed us.
says, “We want this to feel like their real home.” It works; the home does feel
like a place where a family lives. Several Mexican women greet me shyly as they
chatter in Spanish in the kitchen cooking something that makes my mouth water.
Alicia’s provides three full meals a day.
runs from $1200 a month or $14,400 per year for people who are independent, up
to $1500 a month or $18,000 per year for people who need full-time care, such
as Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.
USA Today checked out assisted living homes
at Lake Chapala and reported that for $1,300 a month—a quarter of what an average
nursing home costs in Oregon—Jean Douglas gets a studio apartment, three meals a
day, laundry and cleaning service, and 24-hour care from an attentive staff,
many of whom speak English. She wakes up every morning next to a glimmering
mountain lake, and the average annual high temperature is a toasty 79 degrees.
is paradise," says Douglas, 74. "If
you need help living or coping, this is the place to be. I don't know that
there is such a thing back (in the USA), and certainly not for this
amount of money."
cultural side-note, Mejilla says they have been open for 18 years and in that
time have only had three Mexicans live in the homes. In Mexican culture, the
families typically care for their elderly but for people, who are aging north
of the border, finding care as they age is a reality and thankfully, one that
Mexico is prepared to meet.
adds, “Alicia's is very tastefully decorated and looks like a bed and
breakfast, a far cry from an "institution!"
information about Alicia’s Homes, email:
or call 376-766-3152 if you are local. You can also visit their website: http://www.aliciaconvalescent.com/
were off to see Shangri-La, a
retirement home located in San Antonio
on two lush acres with a well-maintained swimming pool, views of the lake and
mountains and a comfortable family home. Joannie and her husband Fernley are
American who came to Lake
Chapala and fell in love
with the area. They have special training and experience in dealing with
elderly with dementia.
notes that there are not as many rules and regulations as there are in the U.S. She says,
“Anyone with common sense, ability and compassion could do this. Shangri-La is
not a skilled nursing facility. In order to call yourself a nursing home you
have to have a nurse on staff 24/7.”
though Shangri-La isn’t a skilled nursing facility, they provide three tiers of
care and Shangri-La can also provide full-time nursing care for its residents,
is the smallest of the assisted living/retirement homes we visited with only
four rooms, each with private bath. Right now they have three people there and
there is an easy camaraderie among them. Joannie says, “We wanted to keep it
small. This is a family unit.”
adds, “Joannie gave it a homey, country look with a very large outdoor area.
She is a hands-on person with a big heart.”
was unique in that they insist on an English-speaking staff, noting that their
residents don’t speak Spanish and they also prepare a report every month to
send back to family so they are kept in the loop.
for independent care run $1350 USD and for full care the price is around $2600 USD
depending on the individual’s needs.
contact Joannie at Shangri-La on her U.S. VOiP phone line, call: 602-903-6296
or email her at ShangriLaMexico@prodigy.net.mx
or if you are local, dial 376-766-1359 or cell 331-171-9471.
Casa Nostra Nursing Home
Casa Nostra Nursing Home was our last stop. Casa Nostra
has been in operation for 17 years. Located in a residential area of Riberas
del Pilar, Delia Villanueva and Antonio met us. Delia is the new owner of Casa
Nostra since the original owner, Beverly Ward, now 82 and a resident at Casa
Nostra himself, passed the business onto her. They have recently changed
locations to a beautiful home with a lot of colorful murals and cheerful Mexican
mostly bilingual and Antonio, who showed us around the facilities, was quite
charming and fully bilingual.
Ramsey, 80, from Long Island, and a former
school administrator chose to stay at Casa Nostra. “I love it here. I'm 80 and
in poor health and my wife has dementia. I had read advertisements about Casa
Nostra. The facilities are really excellent and it's very quiet here.”
on Long Island for 32 years and says, “I'm not going to go back to the U.S. I would
have paid $20-$25,000 USD a month on Long Island for the same care I get here
good if not better care than the health care in the U.S. I feel very comfortable here.
What’s not to like here? I enjoy an excellent climate, accessible and competent
health care, home-cooked meals, warm weather and friendly people.”
Nostra offers three levels of care, as well as end-of-life care with a nurse on
duty 24/7. Monthly fees are $1400 USD to
$1700 USD and include three meals a day, laundry service, maid service, and a
doctor visit at least once a week or as often as needed. They have room for 12
to 14 residents and have a couple of small casitas, as well as private rooms
within the main house and private areas outside.
adds, “There is an elevator for the convenience of the residents. I noticed in
the nursing area that a resident had a hospital bed with full side rails, as
Nostra also had a video surveillance system in the rooms to make sure that
every one is safe and secure for patients with higher needs.
offer activities such as outings to the malecon
or pier in Chapala, bingo and dominoes.
contact Casa Nostra: email@example.com or to call from a local phone:
we were both very impressed by what is available here at Lake Chapala
in terms of assisted living and long-term care.
was a delight to spend the day with!
says, “I can't imagine considering a move to Mexico
without attending a seminar with Focus on Mexico.
They have the answers to your questions, bring professionals to daily classes,
have resources. They become your friends and you keep in contact
and you can come back anytime and sit in on the classes again for free. And I
did not even mention the tremendous networking with your classmates and those
who came before you! (They are called Alumni.) I am coming back this summer,
see you there!”
all looking forward to seeing you here, Joelle!
Kristina Morgan: Director of Public Relations for FocusOnMexico.
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