Jewish Senior Care Mexico, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Nursing Homes Mexico, Senior Care Mexico, Senior Living Mexico

A Mexican Surprise – Cuernavaca Senior Care for the Jewish Community

Hanukkah 2022

Aside from dedication to senior care in Riverside County, California (Coachella, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage), I have made a point of visiting small and large older adult residences in places I travel to. During the last 25 years I have gratefully been received at innumerable homes in California, Chile, Ecuador, Italy, and Mexico.

I must say, after spending time in Mexican government (DIF homes – department of social services), non-profits (mostly run by nuns), and for-profit homes in 16 states of Mexico, Eishel Nuestro Hogar (Eishel Our Home) in Cuernavaca, is a standout.

Possible reasons why…

This residence functions well because those in charge are serving older adults as their mission. And with compassion. In this way, residents and personnel feel at home despite any minor shortcomings.

At Eishel the director, the physician in charge, and the Board of Directors are transparent. They welcome all who wish to learn about their residence. You may eat a meal, spend the night, or stay longer if you wish to acquaint yourself with the environment. This is unusual.

Few homes in Mexico choose to be as open. Few homes have web pages with authentic photos. For financial and social reasons, many Mexican homes, if they have an Internet presence, choose Facebook.

Culturally, Jewish people are super organized. They care and support each other well. Yes, this is a biased statement, yet it is based on years of observation. (I was NOT brought up in the Jewish faith).

Let’s do a walk through of Eishel Nuestro Hogar/Eishel Our Home :

First, I was expected. Nice !!

For obvious reasons, there is serious security. The modern compound is walled. Within double-locked doors the guards reviewed my ID, then called the administrator.

I was shown to the courtyard where I waited on a comfortable bench with a view through glass front doors to the synagogue. The air was crisp, dry, and warm. (Cuernavaca is known for its spring climate throughout the year).

Synagogue at Eishel Nuestro Hogar, Cuernavaca, Mexico

Within minutes the administrator (who came on her day off) greeted me with the physician in charge. They generously gave their time for a detailed and meaningful tour of the entire compound.

From an American point of view Eishel is a CCRC – a Continuing Care Retirement Community with independent living, assisted living, rehabilitation, nursing care, and end-of-life accomodation. The difference from most CCRC’s in the U.S. is that you offer a monthly donation, and do not own.

Eishel is an A.C., Asociación Civil, a non-profit that has existed in various forms since 1947, 75 years ago. (The first recognized assisted living with 24/7 care in the U.S. opened in Portland, Oregon in 1981).

The Eishel campus has lovely manicured grounds, two modern two-story residences, an outdoor theater, a sculpture garden, an herb garden, two gazebos, and a wall of plaques recognizing the donors.

A gazebo at Eishel Nuestro Hogar facing the independent living indoor/outdoor dining room

Eishel Nuestro Hogar Donor Garden

The fresh herb garden is maintained by residents, the chef, and kitchen staff. In addition to herbs there are tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and more. Pineapples, blackberries and strawberries also grow on the grounds.

We visited residents in their comfortable airy rooms, the nursing floor, and stopped by the currently empty end-of-life suite with one large light-filled room for the resident patient and another room for his or her family.

Note : Even though some senior living administrators in Mexico have thought to create hospice within senior living, Eishel is the only residence I have visited that has sustained such a space. HOLA (Hospice of the Angels) tried this concept in their Morelia assisted living residence for two years during the pandemic. Unfortunately HOLA closed for a variety of reasons.

The nursing floor …

Eishel Nuestro Hogar Infirmary

Dr. Golub attending to patients in nursing floor day room at Eishel

Nursing floor dining room with views to nature and tables to accommodate reclining wheelchairs. Visitors from other countries have come to see the unusual curved tables so they might replicate similar practical tables in their nursing areas.

There are two sparkling, immaculate kitchens honoring kosher tradition.

Eishel’s current population of 72, with room for 140, is mostly Mexican. There are residents from Europe and the U.S. The languages most heard are Spanish, Yiddish, and English, in that order. Entrance is for anyone of Jewish faith either Ashkenazi or Sephardic. One must be 65 years of age, wish to live there, and agree to the rules. Persons with aggressive behavior or on dialysis are not admitted. Please see the web site which outlines requirements. Your monthly payment is a donation to the non-profit.

Photo of rehabilitation patio with Dr. Golub greeting residents, and Director Gonzalez in black and beige blouse dancing in front of a resident

Activities include movies (there is a theater), tai chi, trips, art classes, occupational therapy, and more. There is a library. A 70-year-old retired coffee table book author from Mexico City shared with me that he teaches writing. He lives at Eishel for « the fabulous year-round weather, intellectual conversation, the food, and the sense of community. »

According to the director, there is little staff turnover. Some employees stay 25 years.

Every two months Eishel publishes a full-color mini-magazine, a gazeta. There are articles by board members, residents, and staff on a variety of subjects.

Meaning of the name Eishel :

The Hebrew letters Eishel or Aishel (aleph, shin, lamed) are an acronym for Achila (feeding), Shtiya (drinking), and Linah (lodging). Since ancient times, Eishel denoted an inn.

In case you are wondering about population of Jews in Mexico and the rest of the world :

According to the Pew Research Center there are about 14 million Jews around the world representing 0.2% of the global population:

“While Jews historically have been found all around the globe, Judaism is highly geographically concentrated today. More than four-fifths of all Jews live in just two countries, the United States (41%) and Israel (41%).”

According to American Jewish Aging Services there are over 95 Jewish organizations or homes serving older adults in the U.S.

According to Wikipedia approximately 70,000 Jews (both Ashkenazi and Sephardic) live in Mexico (primarily Cuernavaca, Lake Chapala, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San Miguel de Allende). Another 230,000 live in Argentina.

The first Jews, known as Crypto or Converso Jews because they converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain, came to the Americas with Christopher Columbus on his first expedition (according to Wikipedia and information from the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries). They were called cryptos because they secretly practiced their faith but were publicly Catholics.

Summation

My visit was satisfying. Eishel is an unusual Mexican senior home. Its administrators show they are vested in well-being. At this time the residents are mostly Jewish Mexicans and the help is mostly Mexican. The atmosphere is comfortable and convivial, likely the result of residents having much in common. The true reveal would be living there or visiting Eishel over a period of time.

You may read more about the Eishel home and staff at https://www.eishel.org/ or write to mr.gonzalez@eishel.org

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 to connect Americans, Canadians, and Europeans with options for loved ones. She has assessed hundreds of senior housing choices in 16 Mexican states. Her web site is https://www.WellnessShepherd.com

Resources:

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jud%C3%ADos_en_Am%C3%A9rica_Latina_y_el_Caribe   Most Latin American Jews live in Argentina – 230,000; 70,000 live in MX.   In Argentina there are all-Jewish senior care homes, I easily located three on the Internet.  https://beitsion.org.ar/ , https://hogarledorvador.org/quienes-somos/ (modern), https://auno.org.ar/el-hogar-israelita-refugio-para-los-abuelos 4

https://ajas.org/senior-living-resources/find-a-jewish-senior-community/map-of-all-jewish-senior-communities/ map of Jewish senior living communities in the U.S., about 70 total, most in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/community/articles/the-jews-of-san-miguel-de-allende

Tree flowers, Lake Chapala, Mexico
Assisted Living Mexico, CCRC's in Mexico, Ex-pats in Mexico, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Nursing Homes Mexico, Retirement in Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Senior Living in Mexico – A Chat with SLF’s Steve Moran and Wendy Jane Carrel, Senior Housing and Care Specialist Mexico

When recovering from dental surgery and in an altered state, I was interviewed by colleague and dedicated senior care friend Steve Moran. For more than 10 years Steve has published an on-line magazine reaching thousands of U.S. senior housing executives and their teams – Senior Living Foresight.

Below is a link to our overview chat about Senior Living in Mexico which may be located on Steve’s web site, LinkedIn, and You Tube. (Please scroll to bottom of copy to find link if you are interested).


Part of the 36 minute video is out of sync; it also skips and flip-flops in places.


Toward the end Steve talks about a phone number. If you stay through that one minute, there is a brief mention of Medicare. One of the most asked questions by Americans looking to Mexico is: ” will Medicare be accepted”?


The video is not required viewing
. 😉 The intention is to offer helpful information.


I am accustomed to researching, interviewing, listening, and participating in private one-on-ones. I am unaccustomed to being the center of attention. I have much to learn about being on camera.

Thank you Steve for including me in the discussion!!!!


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

Assisted Living Mexico, CCRC's in Mexico, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Nursing Homes Mexico

Wendy Jane Carrel Speaks to American Retirees About Senior Care and Senior Housing in Mexico

Wendy Jane Carrel will address a group of American retirees about senior care and senior living options in Mexico at Focus on Mexico, Thursday, February 27 in Ajijic, Mexico. (Ajijic is a village with a population of around 10,000 at Lake Chapala, one hour south of Guadalajara, the country’s second largest city).

Her talk will cover Mexican senior care models (including those owned by Americans, Canadians, and other foreigners), and senior care options in expat retirement havens around a country often better known for its tequila, tamales, and mariachi.

See https://focusonmexico.com/focus-6-day-program/ for more details.

Carrel recently wrote an article about corporate senior living developments in Mexico that was posted on Senior Living Foresight, a popular senior housing news site in the U.S. The link to the article is below.

https://www.seniorlivingforesight.net/mexican-assisted-living-and-life-plan-communities-of-80-residents-set-to-attract-american-canadian-and-other-retirees/

 

 

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.

 

Aging, Assisted Living Mexico, CCRC's in Mexico, Death in Mexico, Dying in Mexico, End-of-Life Planning, Expats, Life Plan Communities Mexico, Mexico, Nursing Homes Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Senior Care Specialist for Mexico Talks about Assisted Living & Nursing Care in Mexico, and Why End-of-Life Planning for Ex-pats is a Good Idea

I am grateful to Focus on Mexico, where I address the ever-changing topics in Mexico (and elsewhere) of independent living, assisted living, nursing care, Life Plan Communities (CCRC’s – there is only one so far with others being developed).

The next talk to the Focus on Mexico attendees is March 21 at 11:15 a.m. at a hotel in Ajijic, Mexico. See https://www.focusonmexico.com/focus-6-day-program/   Focus on Mexico offers seminars to folks interested in how to move to and/or live in Mexico.  All presenters at Focus on Mexico are volunteers.

On Friday, March 29, I will be speaking at a FREE community event (open to the public) at the Lake Chapala Society Sala in Ajijic at Lake Chapala, Mexico at 2:00 p.m. on Why End-of-Life Planning is a Good Idea for Ex-Pats in Mexico.

Veladoras for Guadalupe and those we’ve lost, Mexico City Cathedral

Here below are links to articles I have written on the above-referenced subjects:

https://wellnessshepherd.com/2018/09/11/why-creating-an-end-of-life-plan-for-expats-in-mexico-is-a-good-idea/ 

https://www.seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2016/8/3/will-mexico-solve-senior-living-affordability-problem   

https://wellnessshepherd.com/2017/10/10/guidelines-for-choosing-assisted-livingnursing-care-in-mexico/

Wendy Jane Carrel, M.A., a Spanish-speaking senior care specialist, has spent over seven years traveling province to province in Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico researching senior living options. She acts as an advisor or liaison for those who wish assistance negotiating health systems, senior care options, end-of-life care, and disposition of remains.

 

 

 

 

Assisted Living Mexico, Health & Wellness, Living Abroad, Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Nursing Homes Mexico, Senior Care Mexico

Wendy Jane Carrel Speaks on Mexican Assisted Living, Nursing Care at Focus on Mexico

Throughout 2018, I have been invited to address Focus on Mexico participants, a lively and engaged group of mostly retirees from Canada and the U.S. curious about Mexico, curious enough to perhaps make a move.

I talk about senior living options, including possibilities at Lake Chapala.

I share a power point presentation with a few statistics and show photographs based on several years of due diligence and relationship building in 16 states of the country. I review independent living, assisted living, and nursing care – what’s here, what the differences are from home, what’s missing, and what is being created for the next generation that may be in need – boomers.

My VOLUNTEER talk shares an insider’s view for those who wish to consider living south-of-the-border. Other speakers focus on real estate, banking, buying cars, health insurance, medical care, bringing pets, etc.

My next talk is the week of October 29, 2018.

Wendy Jane Carrel with Michael Nuschke, Director of Focus on Mexico, addressing participants

If you are interested to learn about Focus seminars and activities, please see their web site at http://www.FocusonMexico.com. The popular education group is celebrating its 20th year.

Note: My articles are posted on http://www.WellnessShepherd.com. Sometimes they are re-posted on other web sites. If an article does not have my by-line, it is not by me. And, I do not post lists.

Some folks with good intentions, but without senior care experience and/or education, write articles and create lists with recommendations. Unless they are health care professionals, they may not be conversant with possible challenges of moving older adults from one nation to another, where the staff turnover is high, how the staff is trained, how med management is handled, what the activities are, and other subjects related to quality of life.