Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Care, Ecuador Senior Living, elder abuse, End-of-Life Care, Health & Wellness Mexico, Humanitarian Rescue Older Adults

Abandoned Elders Rescued in Ecuador


Wendy Jane Carrel with Diosalinda at rescue home in Chordeleg, Ecuador
Senior Care Specialist and health journalist Wendy Jane Carrel with Diosalinda at rescue home in Chordeleg, Ecuador

For those of you who haven’t seen it before, above is a photo of yours truly with Diosalinda. She led a terrible life of abuse by family before she was rescued by a home for abandoned seniors in Chordeleg, Ecuador four years ago. If I had funds, I would have adopted her. Such a gentle, loving, sensitive soul for all she endured.

Did you notice the Dios in the name Diosalinda? Dios = God in Spanish. At the end of her life she finally has peace, protection, and safety.


Please find below a link to my article at  on how impoverished and abandoned elders are rescued in Ecuador. It is far from complete, but it is based on site visits to almost every province in the country.

Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living

Ecuador National Treasures – The Three Marias (Las Tres Marias) – Singing Sisters from Ibarra

Every older adult is a treasure.

I am blessed to encounter many such treasures.

Here’s how I got to meet Ecuador national treasures Las Tres Marias, The Three Marias, senior singing sisters from Ibarra…

I was at Quito’s new airport waiting for the driver. A car pulls up, a man in a starched white shirt jumps out and with a lot of enthusiasm waves. Lo and behold, it’s Luis, an Afro-Ecuadorian. It’s the first time we have met. He is going to accompany me for a site visit to a luxury senior living home and then to my hostal. On the way to my appointment I ask where he’s from. Ibarra he replies. “Do you happen to know The Three Marias?” I ask.  The stars are in alignment, of course he does, and he can make the arrangements and drive me to meet them!

So a few days later, Luis picks me up in the La Floresta area of Quito for what will be a long, yet amusing, day trip.

First stop, the Otavalo market where we will ask and ask for one of the sisters through Luis’ Afro network. The market is huge and extends for several blocks. It takes over 30 minutes to locate Maria Gloria’s place on the sidewalk. All of a sudden (I was beginning to wonder) there she is with a huge grin on her face.

Maria Gloria travels every Friday and Saturday by bus (over an hour, sometimes two) from her home in the Chota Valley to sell produce from her garden, usually plantains, avocados, and guyabitos. I found her to be open-hearted, humble, and gracious.  She is also unabashedly honest.  “We are products of colonialism.  We have always been slaves, first of the Jesuits, and then racism.”  How did you learn to sing, I asked?  “My parents taught us to sing when we were children, and my father played in a band.”

Maria Gloria Pavon of Las Tres Marias
Maria Gloria Pavon of Las Tres Marias singing trio

We say good-bye to Maria Gloria in Otavalo and head for Chalguayacu in the Chota Valley, way past Ibarra. Ibarra is the largest town on the way to the Colombian border. When we arrive in the village (approximately 2000 inhabitants and completely Afro-Ecuadorian), lots of kids rush to surround the car. And there beside the car, on the sidewalk, are Maria Rosa Elena and Maria Magdalena Pavon.

Maria Rosa is 75 (not confirmed) and the oldest. She sells liquor out of her home. Every Saturday morning she takes a bus to purchase the liquor in Ibarra. She doesn’t say more, other than she has a husband.

Maria Magdalena is a curandera (a healing person) and has diabetes. I found her to be a gentle soul. She likes to go to the senior center each weekday to meet up with about 40 others. The senior center is not open on the weekend, otherwise we would have made a point to stop there too.

Wendy, Maria Rosa, Maria Magdalena
Wendy, Maria Rosa, Maria Magdalena

The sisters have never studied music. Their homes (all on the same street) have no running water and the tile roofs don’t appear to be sturdy. They love to travel and told me they wish to be invited to play in Cuenca. In 2012, Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture bestowed upon them the Bicentennial Medal of Cultural Merit for their unique style of music.

On the way back to Quito, a bonus. Luis brings me to meet his wife Silvia and daughter Alexa who live in a village down the road from Chalguayacu. Luis shares a flat with other family members in Quito during the week. He hopes to move his wife and daughter to Quito soon.  As you can feel from the photo, they have sweet energy.

driver Luis, daughter Alexa, wife Silvia
driver Luis, daughter Alexa, wife Silvia

The links below introduce the music and the Chota Valley of The Three Marias…


There are 1.2 million Afro-Ecuadorians. Their ancestors have been in the country since the mid-1500’s.  A brief, well-written history about them is at the link below…


Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Emergency Preparedness, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico, Living Abroad

Cotacachi Health Chapters, Ecuador End-of-Life Planning Discussion

On June 7, 2015 I had the pleasure of speaking to the Cotacachi Health Chapters group at Gran Hotel Primitivo about End-of-Life Planning for Norte Americanos. (Cotacachi is a charming Andean city 2 1/2 hours from Quito).

My hosts were community organizer Caroline Goering – a true delight – and a team of other amazing, supportive people – Dan and Janda Grove, Mike and Linda Munhall, and Bill and Ann Henry. What to do in case of a health emergency, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, is their focus.

Caroline introduces Wendy
Caroline introduces Wendy Jane Carrel
Cotacachi Health Group, June 2015
Cotacachi Health Group


school marm...
school marm…

We discussed physicians, who to call and why, transportation, the importance of having end-of-life documents prepared, attorneys and notaries, cremation options, and disposition of remains to North America.

Fortunately, bi-lingual nurse practitioner Mary Grover, a former Peace Corps volunteer, can be of service to the estimated 200 expats in the area. I introduced Mary to those who had not met her.

A special thanks to CHC for the invitation. I was exhausted by the time I arrived, but content to meet a group that understands the importance of planning ahead, just in case, when living abroad.

Aging, Assisted Living, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Senior Living

Cuenca, Ecuador Nun Honored for Work with Indigent Older Adults

I am happy to say that an ode to one of my heroines, Sister Patricia Rodriguez, a nun with the Sisters of Charity, has been published.  (See the highlighted link below) .

The City of Cuenca recently honored her amazing contributions not only to seniors but to the community at large.

I have had the pleasure of following Sor Patricia’s work since 2011.  She is indeed inspirational, and, a lot of fun to be around.

The photo below was taken at an Italian restaurant in Cuenca.

I love Sor Patricia, "coordinadora" at Hogar Miguel Leon
I love Sor Patricia, “coordinadora” at Hogar Miguel Leon

At 86 and still going strong, Sister Patricia Rodriguez is honored for her service to Cuenca’s abandoned seniors and to the community.


Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico

End-of-Life Planning Discussion at Cuenca Chamber of Commerce, May 6

In March, I published an article on the importance of End-of-Life Planning for North Americans and others who live overseas.  Here is a link to the article in case you missed it.

There was quite a bit of response. Most responders asked for a seminar.

For those of you who missed announcements in Cuenca High Life, Gringo Post, and Gringo Tree the last few days, here below is the information for the event which will  focus on three main subjects:

1. Why you need a physician ahead of time

2.  Why you need a legal document (an Ecuadorian document if you reside in Ecuador) stating your end-of-life wishes

3.  What the process is for cremation and why it is so difficult


Cuenca Chamber of Commerce Sponsors End-of-Life Planning Discussion Wednesday, May 6

Mark your calendars for 11:00 am Wednesday, May 6 for an important discussion on End-of-Life legal matters and cremation/burial options in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Senior care consultant Wendy Jane Carrel will moderate a panel with attorney Grace Velastegui and Camposanto Santa Ana Funeral and Cemetery General Director Simon Toral.

Presentations will be followed by a question and answer session to address your pressing concerns.

May 6, 2015 11:00 a.m.
Cuenca Chamber of Commerce 3rd floor (there is an elevator)
Federico Malo y 12 de Abril facing Parque de la Madre (view map)

☎ 07 284-2772 ext 233 attn: Gabriela Maldonado

Here below is a photo from the May 6 meeting, deemed a success by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce.  Almost 250 persons were in attendance.  There are approximately 10,000 North Americans resident in Cuenca , Loja/Vilcabamba, and places in-between.

Director General Simon Toral, Attorney Grace Velastegui, Senior Care Consultant Wendy Jane Carrel, Chamber President Atty Jaime Moreno
Director General Simon Toral, Attorney Grace Velastegui, Senior Care Consultant Wendy Jane Carrel, Chamber President Atty Jaime Moren
Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, End-of-Life Care, Health & Wellness Mexico, Long-Term Care, Palliative Care

Palliative Care Training for Healthcare Professionals in Cuenca, Ecuador at Hospice Foundation FASEC

Ethical dilemmas at End-of-Life
Ethical dilemmas at End-of-Life

FASEC (Fundacion al Servicio del Enfermo de Cancer/Foundation Serving Those Ill with Cancer), together with Care Partners International of Washington state, and the University of San Francisco, Quito hosted a palliative care training in Spanish for five days, April 20-24, the first in a series of four trainings for physicians, nurses, psychologists, volunteers, and others. The well-attended event drew healthcare workers from Cuba, Cuenca, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S.

The main speaker was Dr. Susana Lua Nava, a highly regarded Mexican educator and nun who teaches throughout Mexico and at UAG (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara). She runs a hospice, Juntos Contro El Dolor (United Against Pain), with three nurse nuns and a staff of volunteers. Dr. Lua and her team are dedicated to the alleviation of pain in all – no matter a patient’s background, religious belief, or economic position.

Dr. Lua, author of El Enfermo, Terreno Sagrada/The Ill, Sacred Terrain, offered several slides of her work in Mexico and Spain, gave stunning examples of patient care, and spoke about dying at home or in a hospital (advantages and disadvantages of both), myths and realities on the use of morphine, the art of sharing sad news, and preparing the spirit, among other subjects. The most riveting discussion was on ethical dilemmas, a subject she teaches often – why and who one tells or does not tell of their terminal condition based on socio-economic backgrounds, culture, expectations, and other factors.

The next FASEC trainings are scheduled for the second week of June, the third week of July, and a week in October.

For contact information and more story details please click on the link below.

Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Health & Wellness Mexico, Senior Services

Cuenca, Ecuador Inaugurates New City Senior Center

Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, his wife, city dignitaries, employees, and approximately 150 seniors were present Sunday morning, April 19, as Cabrera proudly inaugurated one of Cuenca’s special projects, the “first free public senior center” also known at El Hogar del Abuelos (Home of the Grandparents).  Eight other city senior centers are in the planning stages.

See Cuenca High Life article at link below

Cuenca Ecuador's new city senior center in the El Vergel neighborhood
Cuenca Ecuador’s new city senior center in the El Vergel neighborhood
Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico, Retirement, Senior Living

Guidelines for Choosing a Healthful Home or Apartment in Ecuador

Here below is a link to an article I posted on offering 12 key guidelines for selecting a healthful living environment in Ecuador or wherever else you choose to be.


wide doors for easy access, glass panels for energy of light
wide doors for easy access, glass door panels for energy of light
concrete pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer when raining
concrete entry pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer to walk on when raining
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Emergency Preparedness, Health & Wellness Mexico, Retirement

Senior Care Options in Ecuador, Overseas Radio Program

Hello dear friends and readers,

I was on the radio today.   See the archives for January 5, 2015 for the download.

Big oops. My hostess was stellar. I was energetically flat for a subject I am so passionate about, and a bit off point. I know better. Am praying to redeem myself on another program later. 😉

Here below are a few observations I had intended to clarify:

I have lived or worked in over 40 countries and am truly blessed that I have maintained my health with the exception of being thrown from the back of a Vespa in Rome, Italy – Vespa hit by a truck – two cracked vertebrae. I fortunately healed and have no residual effects.

This experience, among others, led to one important point of our radio chat…

No matter where you choose to live, please give thought to your physical and mental well-being, especially if you are over 50. Self-care is everything for your future, though accidents are sometimes not in our control.

We are all subject to falls despite the place we choose to reside in or travel to. In Ecuador, where sidewalks are rarely flat, smooth, and wide, you can unwittingly fall into ditches, and the street. You can also trip on exposed rebar and protruding cement edges. When it rains, you can glide right across the marble and shiny tiles in front of buildings and splat. Do you want broken bones? Plan on looking down a lot and being mindful.

We are not all made the same when it comes to oxygen intake. The altitude in most Andean cities is between 6,000 and 9,500 feet. Some who are new to high altitude adjust well, others do not and do not know it. I recommend bringing a blood pressure cuff and reading your blood pressure each day. Also, as one ages, I am told we receive less oxygen into our bodies than when we are younger.  Options: bring liquid oxygen drops (haven’t found them here) drink coca de mate tea easily found in any store, go slowly, or, move to a lower elevation. The North American community has lost members who arrived with no chronic health conditions and a clean bill of health – they unwittingly succumbed because of the oxygen issue. These incidents remind me of the childhood story of Heidi and the fresh mountain air in Switzerland that healed her. I had always concluded that high elevation would be good for me or anyone else. Patrick Coady of has written a fine article about living at high altitude and how to handle it:

If you plan to live in Ecuador, make certain to create a Constancia or a Documentacion Juramentada for end-of-life arrangements. Your Advanced Health Care Directive or your Five Wishes are not valid in the country even if notarized, apostilled and translated into Spanish.  Again, your North American documents will not be recognized. If you wish to be cremated this is especially important. The number of days and bureaucracy required for your loved ones to negotiate the system is more than challenging, especially if they are grieving and far away. Different culture, different mentality.

Health Care Prevention and Emergencies in Cuenca in brief:

I had not intended to sound like an advertisement for people whose work I admire, but there is no getting around it. Trainers Ken Dobberpuhl of, Chelsea Gary at, and Sky Rajewski will help you stay in shape if you have balance issues or injuries. They will also recommend physical therapists. They focus on keeping you well.

In 2014, the In Case of Emergency Cuenca volunteer team created lists of health-related emergency resources.  You can locate the information on a local church web site, The names include providers who speak English – but please beware, you are provided with lists, not recommendations. Do your due diligence as you would in your country of origin or elsewhere as to the person or persons whom you will feel comfortable with.  The church kindly provided space for the In Case of Emergency Cuenca team to deliver free seminars of interest to Europeans and North Americans residing in the city in 2014.  The next seminar will focus on End-of-Life and is planned for sometime in spring 2015.  Look for announcements on on-line newsletters Gringo Post and Gringo Tree.

Other holistic mentions for Cuenca:

Cuenca Holistic Network founded by psychologist Robert Higgins, a group of North American and Ecuadorian alternative healthcare workers

Patrick Coady and Silvana Spano of

Dr. Hugo Alvarez, MD and naturopath, a Cuencano who lived 25 years in Canada

Dr. Francisco Malo Tamariz, General Medicine and Ayurveda

Other MD’s are on the church web site link above.

When discussing senior health care in Latin America, the quality of care in Mexico was inadvertently omitted.  In many cities, medical care is truly excellent.  Assisted living in Mexico is often on a par with the U.S., depending what state and city of Mexico you are in, and as in the U.S., what funds you have.  The “carino” that was mentioned is also prevalent in Mexico.  Cuba, a leader is gerontology, has waiting lists at assisted living homes.  This is due to current economics.  Chile, also a leader in gerontology, has sophisticated senior care in Santiago.

Assisted Living, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Health & Wellness Mexico

International Day of Older Persons in Cuenca, Ecuador

sweethearts from Sayusi
sweethearts from Sayusi


October 1 is International Day of Older Persons. It has been recognized as such since the acceptance of a UN decree December 14, 1990.

According to the World Health Organization, an arm of the U.N., there are 600 million persons around the world who are 60 or over. By 2025 the number of older adults is expected to double, and by 2050, there will be 2 billion, the vast majority of whom will be from developing nations.

One such developing nation is Ecuador which celebrates this day with parades and festivities in cities nationwide.

Seniors in Ecuador, whether from privileged backgrounds or farming communities, participate with gusto.

In Cuenca, an Andean city, the province of Azuay, the city, national government social services (MIES), assisted living homes, and the University of Older Adults participate. Yesterday, according to MIES, over 1000 seniors marched in the parade from the corner of Borrero in front of a MIES office, all the way down Calle Larga, a main city street, to the Banco Central, about a 1/2 mile away. In the courtyard of the Banco Central there was dancing, a senior band, a play, Ecuadorian food, and handicrafts made by seniors.

Below are photos of the memorable event…

University of Older Adults for "active, healthy, and productive aging"
University of Older Adults for “active, healthy, and productive aging”


Graduates of the University of Older Adults
Graduates of the University of Older Adults
Seniors from Plentitud Assisted Living led by their dedicated administrator Dolores with pin on lapel
Seniors from Plentitud Assisted Living led by their dedicated administrator Dolores with pin on lapel
real life sweethearts...
real life sweethearts…



senior band from a pueblo outside the city
senior band from a pueblo outside the city



crafts handmade by seniors for sale
crafts handmade by seniors for sale
more handicrafts
more handicrafts
made with love
made with love
precious lady making a straw hat
precious lady making a straw hat
cuy aka roasted guinea pig, a favorite Cuencano food
cuy aka roasted guinea pig, a favorite Cuencano food
pork and potato/corn patties prepared by Plentitud Assisted Living
pork and potato/corn patties prepared by Plentitud Assisted Living




listening to music
listening to music
Pedro Calle, MIES sociologist w/ Lcda Yolanda Arias, MIES Senior Analyst
Pedro Calle, MIES sociologist w/ Lcda Yolanda Arias, MIES Senior Analyst