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Choosing A Long Term Care Home In Ajijic

By Keith Coates 

Assisted living at Lake Chapala MexicoA year ago I came to Ajijic as part of a Focus on Mexico group.  I liked the area, found a house being built which met my needs and budget, and began the process of moving here from Canada.  The major concern I had was the availability of good long term care for my wife, who has Advanced Alzheimer’s disease – if such care were not available, my plans to move would have to be postponed.  In April this year I came here again to search for a care home, and found one.

The Focus site had an archived article on care homes in the area, with names and contact information and some information on the homes.  Before taking the trip I contacted the homes through email, and while here I asked local residents for their recommendations, and also visited some potential places.  I settled on La Casa Nostra, in Riberas del Pilar - http://lacasanostra.com.mx/ .  One important factor in my decision was that the manager had no qualms about giving me email addresses for one resident and three families with loved ones in the facility, so I could get their impressions.  All were extremely favourable.

La Casa Nostra is located in a converted house, apparently designed originally as a bed and breakfast operation, with private rooms for 12 residents and four rooms in casitas in the grounds.  The gardens are well maintained, with several walkways around the flower beds and fruit trees and several paved shaded sitting areas.  The rooms have ensuite toilet and shower area, individual TVs, phones, comfortable furniture and all have Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras viewed from two central monitors.  Residents are monitored 24/7 with no disturbance.

Meals are freshly cooked in the kitchen that adjoins the dining area – not in a remote industrial kitchen which was the case in the home in Canada.  This adds to the family-based care model used here, in comparison to the institutional medical model used in Cranbrook.  I have shared some meals, and have sat with my wife through others, and can attest to the quality of the food.  I brought a cake in for my wife’s 70th birthday – the staff found a candle to put in it, and everyone – staff and residents – sang happy birthday and shared the cake.  This didn’t mean much to her as her level of cognition is very limited now,  but meant a lot to me.

The facility is spotlessly clean – Mexican-style tiled floors throughout – and gaily decorated with murals and painted furniture.  The floors are swept and mopped daily, the outside tiled areas regularly as well.  Her room is kept very clean and tidy, her mementos are displayed on a bookshelf, and the bed linen is always fresh.

One factor which results in good quality care is the staff/resident ratio – up to 6 staff during the day for the current 12 residents, 2 all night, which compares very favourably to the 2 for 15 residents we had at Cranbrook in Canada.  The staff have time to interact with the residents, giving them hugs, calling them by name or as Chiquita – my wife’s name is Carol, now she in Carolita – and taking them outside for fresh air and for walks for those still ambulatory.

Other aspects of better care in Carol’s case are much improved dental care – when she came her teeth were very discoloured—they are now white, improved skin quality in part due to the daily or every second day showers – better than one bath a week, and overall cleanliness of her hair and clothes.  This means a lot to me as I believe it demonstrates that the staff actually do care for the residents and have time to look after them.

The facility has a local doctor who visits weekly – this is included in the rent – and a specialist from the University of Guadalajara who comes every second week but does not see all the residents every time, just those who need him.  This is an extra cost, very inexpensive.

Two of our sons came to visit in September in part at least to check on Mom – their comments were that she looked ten years younger, much cleaner, and that this facility was miles better than the one in Canada – this made me feel that the move was the  right one.

My choice of La Casa Nostra is in no way a criticism of other local facilities, but based on how I felt about the home both through my visits and through my discussions with Delia, the manager.  I hope this short account will give anyone faced with making this decision some idea of the kind of things to look for and to ask of the facility.  If anyone wishes to ask me about this, feel free to contact me at kscoates@telus.net 

Keith Coates

Editor’s note: The costs at La Casa Nostra vary from $ 1,500.00 to $ 1,800.00 US dollars, depending on resident´s condition. 

Keith shared with us an article written by a resident of La Casa Nostra and published in a magazine. It was translated from Spanish. As Keith said, “I found this very touching.  By the way, the malecon is a paved walkway along the lake shore, in case anyone is not clear on that.” 

Dawn.  The sound of the birds salutes the new day.  Activity in the kitchen begins, mixing the fruit and the water, the music, the laughter, the eggs and the bread.

The nurses and aides get us up, clean us up, dressing and combing our hair to take us to the dining room.


Good Morning! Good Morning, Buenas Dias!...while we go about taking our places around the table to share breakfast.  Some of us share glances and smiles as well.


A small nap prepares for the activities of mid-morning, playing cards, puzzles, the lottery, and some physical exercise.


If it is Tuesday, a doctor visits us and is interested in knowing how we are, examining us and asking questions.  But today is not Tuesday.


Some of us go for a walk along the malecon in Chapala, enjoying the good ice cream that is already starting to melt, the breeze that comes from the lake refreshes and gives movement and texture to the surface of the water.  The people and all the bustling about entertain us until it is time to return as dinner is waiting.  Almost everyone returns at this time for dinner.  After dinner we retire for another nap.


Later we reunite in the living room to watch television, some walk in the garden and around the house, others prefer to read or stay in their rooms.


Supper is served a little before dark.  Although some prefer supper in their rooms, others prefer to return to the dining room.


After we return to our rooms, I like to watch television and at times read until I fall asleep.  On occasions I become aware of the visits of the nurses; otherwise, I wake at the start of a new day knowing that there are eyes watching over my rest.


Antonio Carderas

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