Death in Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Hospice Mexico, Palliative Care Mexico

Expats in San Miguel de Allende Contemplate A Thoughtful Death

This month I had the honor of participating in an on-going Zoom conversation about A Thoughtful Death with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 

Care team member Lydia Jane Failing was the lively and engaged producer and host. Many thanks to her and team members Wilka Roig (co-host), Francoise Yohalem, Joan Wolf, and Rev Tom Rosiello.

Articulate and engaging producer/host Lydia Jane Failing of UUF SMA

They are dedicated to discussing why and how it may be wise for expats to prepare for their demise legally, psychologically, and spiritually in Mexico.

I adore informal chats but for whatever reason when it was announced the conversation would be recorded just as we began, my mind froze and I omitted helpful information. I sounded like a newbie instead of someone comfortable and experienced. Yikes!!!

Some clarifications for the listeners:

  1. Palliative Care

Freedom from pain is a humanitarian right. Few countries are able to provide it in part or fully. When it exists, it is provided by a trained and empathetic team of doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, chaplains, and volunteers creating palliar (Latin) – comfort, support, and protection. This support extends to patient’s families and other loved ones.

Mexico has had a palliative care law since 2009 (modified in 2014). It states everyone is entitled to relief from pain, especially in the last six months of life. Few places in Mexico are able to provide or sustain such an important and needed service. Few people know the law exists, let alone where to go and how to access needed services.

Juntos Contra el Dolor, A. C. in Guadalajara is the first and only 24/7 palliative care hospital (and ultimately hospice) in the state of Jalisco. Its founder is nun physician Dra Susana Lua Nava, a palliative care thought leader. Every person, physicians included, is a volunteer except for two civilian palliative care nurses (day and night shift), and the cleaning lady. My social service for Juntos coordinating patient care, companioning at the bedside, community outreach, and raising funds has been and continues to be as a volunteer.  All donations go directly to Juntos Contra el Dolor, A.C.

Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (New York) shares a three-minute explanation of the value of this service:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/brief/348127/diane-meier

  1. Lydia Jane asked: How do you bring a level of spiritual acceptance to the people you encounter when their transition is imminent?  

I do my best to live by one motto: “The secret of the care of the patient is caring for the patient” – Dr. Francis W. Peabody at the Harvard Medical School, 1925.

When I am invited in, I recognize that someone is willing to share exceptionally sacred, tender, even mystical moments. It is an honor to companion.

Human engagement is about feelings. Each experience is different, intangible.

I do my best to bring authentic presence and friendship.

One of the easiest openers is to ask what environment they wish for.

Windows and curtains open? Flowers or no flowers? Candles or no candles? Perhaps anointment with frankincense? More pillows, a change of dressing gown? Bathing each day? Linen changes each day? Photos nearby. Practical considerations. Then, sit quietly with full attention to needs of water, nourishment, and more.

“Companioning” seems to involve spontaneous creativity, trusting intuition about the care of the soul before you.

For those who are anxious, I guide breathing exercises which seem to help.

Each person teaches me, not the other way around. There are no rules. I feel any of us may be present by sitting quietly, hand holding (if wished for), and being open to whatever arrives.  The journey is always theirs, not ours nor that of their family member.

In my experience, most folks have answers inside as long as the person at the bedside is there as support. We are listening posts, and on occasion guides. I listen until something appears, perhaps a clue or a cue. Invariably feelings are expressed. The process is usually slow.

In my experience people who are fading surprise themselves into acceptance, but not all. Some folks see someone waiting for them. Most folks seem to wish a witness alongside, someone honoring their existence in order to lapse into peace.

Note: my service as a companion to the ill and their families in Mexico is as a volunteer. 

  1. No burials of bodies on your property in California. Ashes of loved ones have been known, however, to be buried not just at sea but under trees, rose bushes, and more.

More thank yous:

My appreciation for our conversation extends to talented designer and technology wiz Diana Amaya for making certain we were appropriately situated. Thanks also to Wilka Roig psychologist, death doula, Director of Elizabeth Kubler Ross Foundation SMA, and first speaker.

Dr. Pepe Valencia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Dr. Pepe Valencia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

On June 10 San Miguel de Allende gerontologist and thanatologist Dr. Pepe Valencia talked candidly about how he has overcome government and “Catholic” challenges as they relate to serving patients at end-of-life in Mexico. He has been serving older adult residents, expats in particular, for over 40 years. Here is the link to his talk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKJ3N1q_kA&t=400s

On June 17 Carlos F Chancellor, Jungian-Archetypal Psychotherapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Integration Therapist, Dream Worker, Mythologist and Storyteller joined the program. His sensitive and healing talk can be listened to at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iFcrgQadZc&t=107s

On June 20, Felicitas Rusch-Lango, a life coach and yoga instructor offered breathing exercises to calm anxiety, poetry, Buddhist wisdom, and more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7yTnvhQyes

Wilka Roig is continuing the A Thoughtful Death dialogues through the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation Central Mexico.  Please write info@ekrmexico.org or Wilka at info@wilkaroig.com for more information on how to participate. The June 30 talk was by a member of the Green Burial Council in the U.S.

May this find you, your loved ones and all beings well and healthy. 

Deep bows

Wellness Shepherd Wendy   

 

Assisted Living Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Nursing Homes Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Assisted Living Homes at Lake Chapala, Mexico Brace for COVID-19

Taking care of frail or gently infirm older adults, even in “good” times, is a challenging job. For many of us in senior care it is also a satisfying way to serve, and offers rewarding engagement.

But how does one rally to protect and defend older adults living in senior communities from COVID-19, the newest corona respiratory virus with multiple symptoms and possibly an unmerciful death, perhaps alone?

Precious American senior at a Lake Chapala assisted living home offering love to a little crab

Medical experts and tragic statistics share that older adults are more vulnerable than others to this borderless virus. A recent New York Times article reports an estimated one-fifth of U.S. deaths are linked to nursing facilities often due to inadequate protection and/or compensation for staff who sometimes work in more than one building to financially survive.

COVID-19 is now in Mexico. It flowed from Asia to Europe and the U.S. first. As of April 18, 958 Mexicans over age 60 have been hospitalized and 160 have required intensive care, representing 37% of the population. (No number is known from senior homes if any, but most patients had underlying health conditions).

Inspired by the response of healthcare workers around the world and despite distressing international and local news, all hands are on deck at approximately 25 assisted living/”nursing” homes at Lake Chapala, Mexico, one hour south of Mexico’s second largest city Guadalajara.  Residents are ex-pat and Mexican retirees and do not represent typical populations in other parts of the country.

Garden area, assisted living, Riberas del Pilar, Lake Chapala, Mexico

Important note: In Mexico, there are no nursing homes as they are defined north of the border. Acute care is in hospitals only. Assisted living homes offer some nursing care and rehab. There is more or less a one size fits all approach to senior care in Jalisco state and the rest of Mexico, with exceptions.

Shelter-in-place began March 19, the date of the first confirmed case in Guadalajara. Since then I’ve been engaged by phone and e-mail with home owners and staff where I have found appropriate care for “gringos”.  I am also in touch with precious residents via phone, e-mail, and sometimes Skype.

The virus has probably been present at Lake Chapala far longer than April 22, the date of the first reported but yet to be confirmed COVID-19 case locally.  Why? Because the lake is a major destination for American, Canadian, and European retirees and/or residents who travel extensively.

What protocols have been in place at assisting living/”nursing homes” since mid-March?

First, no visitors allowed, until further notice.

Each lakeside home (4 to 20 residents, owned by Mexicans or ex-pats) is doing what it can to adhere to guidelines from Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro and his Ministry of Health, as well as to those of the World Health Organization (WHO). In a land not known for high health standards and cleanliness, and where compliance for the greater good is not the norm, it is impressive what this virus has prompted at assisted living/”nursing homes”.

Restful Assisted Living grounds in San Juan Cosala overlooking Lake Chapala

Hand washing for all, several times. Hand sanitizers at all entry ways.

Hand sanitizer on mini-tables outside every room for doctors, nurses, caregivers, and residents.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves are provided for staff and residents, including masks for sitting in outside garden areas. These items are in regular supply. This is unusual as hospitals countrywide do not have enough PPE. Outside China, Mexico is the largest manufacturer of PPE. Mexico, ironically, sent a majority of its supplies to help China months ago. There is a cottage industry in every lakeside village making cotton double fabric washable masks at reasonable cost. Not the same as N-95 masks which are intended to be disposed after each use in clinical settings and are a challenge to clean. Home-made masks are, however, a helpful alternative.

Staff has stopped wearing scrubs on their way to work.

Rooms for staff to change from street clothes to scrubs have been created. Some places had these areas before with private lockers included.

Washing machines are going all day with resident clothing and staff clothing.

Staff stopped wearing scrubs to work based on hospital doctors and nurses being assaulted with bleach, hot coffee, eggs, or beatings because scrubs identify them with the virus. From Guadalajara to Merida healthcare worker abuse incidents have been markedly on the rise. Some essential workers have been prevented from entering their apartments or evicted by landlords who fear contagion. In one city, hospital workers now live in a hotel. See The Guardian article at end for more details.

Daily disinfection multiple times of door handles, railings, ground walkways

Double the work keeping dementia care residents safe

Food for kitchens now delivered to entry gates, fewer trips out

Meals served in rooms. Disposable utensils instead of flatware.

So far, no staff shortages and no cases as of this writing. Staff is showing up, fear or not. This could change if the infection takes hold. The majority of healthcare workers are young and have families.

One building picks up all staff for work so they do not travel by bus. The ideal situation, though not possible in most places, is having staff live on campus for the duration of the outbreak. Hogar Miguel Leon, a senior home housing 30 residents in Cuenca, Ecuador, for example, has outside staff living with the nurse nuns who are in charge.

Most homes, despite the added work load for prevention and preparation, are addressing isolation and possible loneliness issues of their residents. Volunteer visitors, outside entertainment, and chair yoga teachers on campus are no longer present. There is instead accelerated collaboration with faith communities, the Lake Chapala Society, other service groups, and individuals providing phone trees and Zoom chats. Adopt-a-Senior is happening. Facebook provides various resource guides for COVID-19 and delivery services on lakeside group pages. Example: one home orders to-go lunches which are delivered by a restaurant every Friday.

Assisted living for abandoned Mexican women near Jocotopec, Lake Chapala. An extraordinary volunteer service is offered by ex-pats.

Technology. There is a sudden rise in Facetime and Skype use. Zoom conferencing has been implemented and used for daily or weekly news and events. For those who are cogent, this technology is happily received.  For the most part, there are not so many innovations for dementia residents. No one has mentioned the use of telemedicine which is on the rise in the U.S.

Culture.  In Mexico, life works depending on who you know. Owners and staff network for support with family, friends, and colleagues for solutions – Facebook reigns.

As mentioned, the majority of homes at Lake Chapala implemented public health advice promptly and with uncommon vigor.

But will the rest of the community outside these homes rally for COVID-19 and honor quarantine and face mask measures?

Is there a way to prevent unprecedented loss of life in assisted living at Lake Chapala?

Senior living homes may not be able to prevent outbreaks, but they are working on delaying them. They are taking known measures to protect vulnerable populations and staff. But the variables are many and luck is required. As in the U.S., testing is slow to arrive.

And, the virus is invisible, so prevention may be an impossible task. Staff could unwittingly be silent carriers. Local quarantines are suggested and are not enforced. Mexicans enjoy gathering in large groups, no matter what, even when they’ve been asked not to.

The song Ay Yay, Yay Yay… Canta, No Llores comes to mind for Mexico in the time of COVID-19. Sing, Don’t Cry, continue on. The words represent a mindset for suffering and profoundly sad situations which the majority of the population has endured for five centuries. The country is rich in resources. Few are well-to-do. The rest struggle to put food on the table. Singing is a way to continue every day.

In closing, gratitude to all Mexican healthcare and essential workers, unsung heroes and heroines. Thank you for your presence. You demonstrate tremendous strength and courage. May you and those you care for be protected in the days ahead.

Final note: The majority of older adults in Mexico cannot afford healthcare, let alone assisted living or in-home care. The majority of assisted living/”nursing home” residents at Lake Chapala are ex-pats, even though there are a number of Mexican residents. Each home has private rooms and baths, few have shared rooms, What’s available at the lake is not typical of the rest of Mexico where almost 900 senior homes are generally more crowded and contagion more likely.

 

Wendy Jane Carrel, MA, is a Spanish-speaking senior care specialist and consultant from California. She has travelled Mexico for several years researching health systems, senior care, and end-of-life care in order to connect Americans, Canadians, and Europeans with options for loved ones. She has investigated hundreds of senior housing choices in 16 Mexican states. Her web site is http://www.WellnessShepherd.com.

 

You have permission to re-post the article when you include author’s name, biography, and contact information as above.

© Wendy Jane Carrel, 2020

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/23/mexico-health-workers-attacked-covid-19-fears  Mexican healthcare workers being attacked throughout the country

https://medium.com/@richardensor_50805/a-chat-with-mexicos-coronavirus-czar-e2117a3a4757  Economist reporter interviews Mexican Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell April 5, 2020, excellent overview of the public health situation

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/coronavirus/40-of-seniors-have-survived-covid-19-without-hospitalization/  Mexican seniors who have survived

https://www.bestoflakechapala.com/lake-chapala-steps-up-a-covid-19-resource-guide/

https://www.seniorlivingforesight.net/life-after-covid-19-technologys-starring-role-in-affordable-senior-housing/   technology is making a positive difference for quality of life and care in places where it is affordable and can be implemented

www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-canada-seniors/we-are-failing-our-grandparents-canadas-trudeau-says-as-covid-19-hammers-nursing-homes-idUSKCN2253I6  Canadian nursing home situation

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/us/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html  about a fifth of U.S. virus deaths are linked to nursing facilities

https://ktla.com/news/california/socal-nursing-homes-among-hardest-hit-in-covid-19-outbreak/  list of CA nursing homes affected by virus…. 70%% of deaths in Long Beach.    April 20, 2020

https://www.helpage.org/guidelines-for-care-homes-for-older-people-in-the-context-of-coronavirus-covid19/  Help Age International guidelines for care homes

Aging, Assisted Living Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Retirement in Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Successful Aging Expo San Diego, November 2019

On November 2 the newspaper San Diego Union-Tribune hosted a free event that attracted a 50+ crowd interested in subjects related to aging. Main speakers were Patricia Schultz (author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die) and Captain Dale Dye, USMC retired (author, filmmaker) focused on veterans and others.

November 2, 2019

Most of the activity at the San Diego Convention Center was at booths. Among the participants offering information were AARP, Leading Age, healthcare service providers, a cancer awareness initiative group, estate planners, Medicare Advantage Plan insurers such as Humana and SCAN, retirement counselors, senior movers, senior living placement consultants, a sleep therapy advisor, and others.

The highlight for me, related to some of my work as a senior placement consultant for Mexico, was to meet up with Miguel Angel Torres and Marisa Molina of Serena Senior Care in Baja California. I toured their Rosarito assisted living home last year and am eager to return to see their latest developments.  I appreciate their dedication, enthusiasm, and focus on quality care. See www.serenacare.net plus links to videos found on their web site.

As an aside, Serena offers residents and visitors to Baja a Full Assistance Card for $99/year ($198 per couple).  The Full Assistance Card offers ambulance services, roadside assistance, a 24-hour bi-lingual call center, discounts, and access to online medical records. Have not seen this service in action so am not in a position to comment on it. Information on this is at the web site listed above.

Miguel Angel Torres, one of his supporters, and Wendy Jane Carrel Assisted Living Consultant for Mexico at Serena Care booth

Corey Avala of www.RetireBaja55.com was also present to encourage folks to retire early and “affordably” to one of three developments he is involved with. Have not seen them.

Jane Garcia, a realtor from Dream Home Mexico was also there to espouse the benefits of retiring to Mexico.

One of the advantages of Baja California for assisted living and retirement, aside from the lower cost of living, is its close proximity to San Diego for health care through the Veteran’s Administration, and U.S. healthcare for American ex-pats who wish to return in case of need.

Many thanks for the warm reception by the San Diego Union-Tribune sponsor team!  Many thanks to the San Diego Union-Tribune for producing the San Diego Eldercare Directory 2020 available in print at the expo, and also available on-line at http://www.sandiegoeldercare.com. The directory includes listings of independent living and long-term care throughout San Diego County.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjO4FIeS-7g

Assisted Living Mexico, Dying in Mexico, Emergency Medicine Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Wellness Shepherd Wendy Jane Carrel Shares with Ex-pats about Senior Care in Mexico, Preparing for Medical Emergencies, and Beautiful Dying

This is an exciting fall month for educational events.

Other than shepherding families to appropriate, compatible Mexican assisted living and ”nursing” care for their loved ones, pastoral care visits to sweet older adults at Lake Chapala (always a pleasure), and coordinating the production of health books (one a translation to Spanish), there are seminars to attend and blog about, plus informational talks I have prepared for ex-pats.

Here’s a partial calendar….

October 3   Future of Medical Cannabis conference on-line.  Medical cannabis is not yet legal in Mexico, lots of challenges related to its release, but all is possible. Am keeping informed of movements in the U.S. and Canada. Some U.S. doctors are titrating down opioid prescriptions and other pain meds for their patients- slowly, by introducing medical cannabis at the same time.

Oct 16        Beautiful Dying in Mexico Power Point presentation at Lake Chapala Society.  In honor of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, an overview of dying in Mexico – family and religious traditions, rituals, their origins and meaning, and why many Mexicans seem so comfortable with death. Told through stories I’ve been witness to volunteering at a palliative care hospital/hospice and/or as a friend on a village street in Ajijic, Mexico.

Oct 19        Medical Cannabis in Mexico Conference all day in Guadalajara

Oct 22       Preparing for Medical Emergencies at Lake Chapala Power Point presentation at Presbyterian Church

Oct 24-26  4th International Palliative Care Congress at UTEG in Guadalajara produced by www.JuntosContraelDolor.com, the palliative care hospital and service I volunteer with

Oct 30       Focus on Mexico Power Point presentation about Senior Care in Mexico, members only

Assisted Living Mexico, CCRC's in Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Senior Care Mexico

Wendy Jane Carrel to Talk About Senior Care/Senior Housing at Focus on Mexico, August 2019

I always look forward to addressing folks from Canada, Europe and the U.S. at Focus on Mexico one-week seminars, currently held every two to three months at the Real de Chapala Hotel, Lake Chapala, Mexico. 

Most attendees are considering a move to Mexico for a variety of reasons – adventure, climate, housing costs, more affordable healthcare, retirement, and more!

Placard in front of modest assisted living home, Jocotopec, Lake Chapala

The newbies will see my Power Point presentation Thursday morning, August 8, outlining various models of senior living and senior care in Mexico – government, non-profit, and for profit independent living, assisted living, memory care, and Life Plan Communities/CCRC’s. My photos of senior living options are from various states in Mexico from Baja California to Merida in the Yucatan, all ex-pat havens. 

To date, Lake Chapala attracts the fastest growing and largest community of ex-pats in Mexico. 

See http://www.FocusonMexico.com for more info.

Ex-pats in Mexico, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Retirement in Mexico, Senior Living Mexico

Envisioning a Retirement Boom, Mexico Creates More Independent Living for Americans and Canadians – Especially at Lake Chapala

I am a Spanish-speaking senior care specialist for Mexico, serving Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who are discovering they may not be in a position to retire, or, may outlive their savings. They are looking for more affordable aging options at home or abroad.

Where are these retirees choosing to move if going abroad?

Mexico … for the most part, because of its proximity to Canada and the U.S., milder weather, opportunities for new life adventures, and most of all, access to medical and senior care at one-third to one-half less than at home – a major concern, just in case, even for those who are super fit and who follow a healthy lifestyle.

This boom is no surprise to developers from Canada, Mexico, Spain, and the U.S. who have anticipated the rise in the number of retirees from Canada and the U.S for over 10 years – to Baja California, Mazatlan, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel Allende, and the Quintana Roo/Yucatan states where Merida and Cancun reign. Large numbers of ex-pats continue to arrive.

Many new retirees – boomers, boomers bringing parents, and some Gen-Xers – love technology, travel, and learning. They like to drive, to explore. Some will continue to work on-line. More than anything they enjoy their independence. They seek ways to live more economically, and, use Mexico as a home base for more travel.

They have unique interpretations of what independent living means. Generally, the vision is of a person 50 or older, usually but not always retired. The overriding lifestyle goal is AGING IN PLACE either within a community where one is self-sufficient, or in a community providing services such as meals, laundry, cleaning, and transportation.

Mexico is preparing to offer a variety of such choices in beach environments or the colonial highlands.

However, unlike the U.S., retirees must not expect choices as diverse as an all Hindu, laughing yoga, retired postal worker, artist, Japanese, or Presbyterian senior community, nor any development as large as a Sun City.

The most aggressive housing expansion has been at Lake Chapala, one hour south of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, which also boasts an international airport.

Ajijic malecon, Lake Chapala, Mexico

What kind of housing are retirees finding at the lake?

If not stand-alone private homes, most retirees are on the look-out for living akin to 55+ communities near golf courses, shopping, gyms, spas, and the company of other ex-pats.

What’s in the offing at Lake Chapala?

Three large construction projects – two Life Plan Communities with independent living (with moves to assisted living or nursing care as part of a long-term plan), and one “luxury” development of condos and casitas not unlike already existing communities known as El Dorado, El Parque, or The Raquet Club replete with tennis courts, pools, a club house, gym equipment, and gardens. The new projects may open by 2021.

Video of El Dorado Private Residence Club:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72qzBeIuJio

El Parque website:    https://elparque.weebly.com/

Video of The Raquet Club:    https://www.accesslakechapala.com/location/san-juan-cosala/

The two newest additions for independent living at Lake Chapala are:

Namaste Lake Chapala Community tiny houses, a co-housing enclave in the village of Ajijic. Its founder is American James F. Twyman, a body/mind/spirit author and musician who travels the globe as a “peace troubadour.”  The Namaste community opens its doors to the public for morning meetings to discuss or review A Course in Miracles.

Namaste Community Patio, Lake Chapala

Namaste offers 12 brightly painted homes providing 300 SF to 600 SF of living space, each with kitchen, bath, and living areas. The Namaste concept is to age in place affordably, bringing healthcare in should it be needed. Meals are communal, or taken to your residence if you wish silence.

Namaste Co-Housing Community, Lake Chapala, Mexico

 

Namaste Co-Housing Communty, Lake Chapala, Mexico

 

First Completed Namaste Tiny House Kitchen

As of this writing, all but one of the homes have been purchased and/or rented. For more information see www.NamasteLakeChapala.com or call Kerri Moon, Head of Sales, at (510)250-3002, a U.S. phone number.

Ohana Independent Living in San Juan Cosala, 20 minutes west of Ajijic, is the other newbie. The owners are bi-lingual geriatric nurses. Even though there is no assisted living or nursing care at their two story independent living home on the lake, folks with walkers who can take care of themselves are welcome. An elevator is currently being installed.

Ohana Independent Living main gate entrance, Lake Chapala

Ohana Independent Living is located on a large lakefront estate with sprawling lawns, close to nature. There are 12 rooms. Each residence has mountain or lake views. There is a balcony on the second floor facing the lake. Rooms are partially furnished or decorated to one’s preferences. Dogs are welcome. Meals are included, as well as laundry, maid service, and parking. There is no web site. For more information call Alonzo Garcia at 52 331 495-6167.

Alonzo, Ana, and Adam bi-lingual owners of Ohana

 

Patio at Ohana Independent Living, Lake Chapala

 

Cloudy day view of Lake Chapala from Ohana Independent Living

 

Dining room, newly opened Ohana Independent Living, Lake Chapala, Mexico

Summation:

There are currently three independent living residences with meals, laundry, maid service, and parking for your car at Lake Chapala. There is a fourth residence, owned by a physician, with no parking. If you became seriously infirm at any of these places, you would be required to move somewhere else. Monthly fees range from $1200 to $1800/month USD, the average cost of Mexican assisted living with no frills.

There are another four communities designed as individual apartments for older adults. Stretching the interpretation, there are about seven more that have a community feel but are exclusively rentals; the renters happen to be older adults. There are also four hotel apartments, some with kitchens, rented long-term by older adult ex-pats.

There are two intentional co-housing communities. Other than Namaste there is Rancho La Salud Village in West Ajijic. It consists of a group of larger homes created for aging in place and green, sustainable living. There are no communal meals, each resident is on his or her own. RLSV was founded in 2010 by Jaime Navarro and his wife Sara Villalobos, together with “green” architect Rick Cowlishaw.  See www.ranchollasaludvillage.com

As of this writing, other “independent living” and/or senior living projects for ex-pat retirees are in the works throughout Mexico awaiting, for the most part, American and Canadian boomers.

Wendy Jane Carrel, MA, is a Spanish-speaking senior care specialist and consultant from California. Over a period of several years she has traveled state to state in Mexico researching health systems, senior care options, end-of-life care, and disposition of remains. She volunteers at the only 24/7 palliative care hospital/hospice in Jalisco that also has a community outreach service. http://www.WellnessShepherd.com or contact her at wellnessshepherd@aol.com.

You have permission to re-post the entire article when you include author’s name, biography, and contact information as above.

© Wendy Jane Carrel, 2019

Resources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_senior_living  definition of independent living for older adults

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cohousing   definition of co-housing

https://www.ic.org   listing of Intentional Communities worldwide

http://www.dailycommercial.com/opinion/20170616/letter-many-boomers-opt-for-cohousing

https://www.ezilon.com/maps/images/northamerica/political-map-of-Mexico.gif  map of Mexican states and major cities

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/health/assisted-living-costs-elderly.html My favorite senior care journalist Paula Span writes about Americans outliving their funds, or not having enough funds, for assisted living or care at home.

https://internationalliving.com/countries/mexico/cost-of-living-in-mexico/  This article is intended to “sell” Mexico. The table with cost-of-living for 2019 is more or less accurate.

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/livable-communities/info-04-2012/great-quirky-places-to-retire.html  An AARP review of unusual U.S. retirement communities

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/8-quirky-retirement-communities-2013-01-22

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/29/health/retirement-communities-indian-chinese.html

https://www.floridaforboomers.com/nalcrest/  a Florida retirement community for letter carriers

http://theguadalajarareporter.net/index.php/news/news/lake-chapala/31253-seniors-fair-foreshadows-boom-in-mexicos-retirement-living-industry  prescient article from 2012