Aging, Falls and Injuries in Mexico, Retirees in Mexico, Retirement in Mexico, Senior Living Mexico

A Note to Expat Retirees: Avoid Falling in Mexico (or anywhere)

Oh, did someone say FALL or FALLING?!!!

One hour south of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is the quaint village of Ajijic, a Pueblo Magico. For those of you who have visited or lived there, you have may have heard or read that the village is also known as the “City of Fallen Women.”

The Fallen Women are foreigners. Foreigners who have tripped on river rock, rough cobblestone, or lone pieces of steel rebar. They have broken hips, femur bones, wrists, or sadly lost their lives with complications from falls. Fewer men fall. As I write it is reported that one older adult male was walking in Chapala Centro, three miles from Ajijic, at 8:19 a.m. Sunday, September 26. According to a witness, he fell, hit his head, and died.

A few years ago, I felt just as sorrowful when I learned a similar story. I think of it often. A 60-year-old male fell in Ajijic, impaled his head on river rock, and died. Someone reported he was fit and had no health conditions. That may be true or not. No matter what, surviving a fall or dying from a fall is sad and painful, an event to be avoided no matter where you live. But if you are in Mexico it’s good to have a plan if you do fall and to walk with awareness even though it is easy to get distracted.

The worst-case scenario is falling and dying alone. In Mexico your body will be transported to the closest SEMEFO (Servicio Medico Forense or Medical Forensic Service) for an autopsy and your family and friends will have quite a challenge retrieving your corpse. Even if your government makes a call to assist, your government does not interfere or have influence with the Mexican government SEMEFO unless you get lucky.

Several ladies I’ve met at Lake Chapala have fallen on the street or at home. Fortunately, they were in company or had cell phones to call for help. They also had immediate access to doctors. They or companions had pre-organized for such an event, just in case. Recovery was rarely easy but thankfulness for rescue is the continued message.

A reminder for why I do not wish to fall anywhere, I wish to keep dancing. This lovely mural may be found at the base of Colon Street in the Pueblo Magico of Ajijic.

Fall Awareness Week was commemorated September 18-24 in the U.S.

Throughout the coming fall/autumn weeks fall prevention workshops are being held at senior centers in the U.S. Fortunately, in Mexico, most expat communities offer balance and exercise classes as well as services with local physical therapists.

Current statistics related to older adults falling in the U.S. (and Mexico):

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and innumerable other studies report the following:

1 in 4 older adults fall each year

1 in 4 falls result in an increased level of care

Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall (in the U.S.)

Persons with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia fall more, and person-centered care is critical for them

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults

The cost of falls is $50 billion per year across the U.S. health system – emergency rooms, hospitals, rehab, and more.

Mexico’s INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography) has population stats, aging stats, and mortality figures (but not by cause). On the Instituto Nacional de Geriatria Mexico City website I was unable to discover statistics related to falls. Studies of the last three years have focused on poverty, nutrition, care of chronic illness, and COVID. Nonetheless, falls happen in Mexico, and not just to expats.

With care and attention most falls can be prevented. When they are prevented, they save you and healthcare systems high costs financially, physically, and emotionally.

What should anyone of any age, especially an older adult, pay attention to now? Preventive measures?

1. Assess your fall risk. Protect your bones. Many older adults are not aware they may be walking around with osteoporosis, also known as the “silent disease”. The cost of a bone density test in Mexico is reasonable (for most). Discuss the results with your physician, chiropractor, or naturopath. Read about diet, exercise, supplements and more.

2. Join an exercise program focused on building balance and strength. Expat communities throughout Mexico offer pilates, yoga, training at gyms, and specialized classes for older adults at senior centers known as “centros geriatricos.”  As mentioned, physical therapy may also be helpful.

3.  Dress sensibly. Wear clothing you will not trip on. Wear sensible shoes that support and cushion your feet. Flip flops, for example, are not the best choice of sandal at a certain age, easy to twist an ankle.

3. Check your vision, hearing, and medications. Some medications may cause weakness, fogginess, forgetfulness. Be aware.

4.  If you do fall, yes, there could be an emotional toll. You may feel shame or anxiety. Even if the fall is unwitnessed, best to share the information with chosen healthcare professionals and friends. It is fine to self-recover but letting someone know what happened will create a history to refer to and will assist healthcare professionals should you fall again (hopefully not).

5. Consider using a cane or walking stick. No need to stay inside. Movement is more important than no movement. Walk in safe places without skateboards, bicycles, and other moving forces that could harm you.

6.  Consider making where you live safe and barrier free by following universal living design standards. Wood floors and linoleum are preferred as the materials cushion falls to some degree. No slippery or wet floors. Well-lit rooms and corridors. Grab bars. See links below in Resources for ways to create an environment friendly to falls and most disabilities.

7. Companions or buddies to keep an eye on you. Whether you are a solo ager, married, or with a significant other, it is wise to have at least two persons you can call for rescue. Make that three, with your doctor. As the National Council on Aging suggests, “make fall prevention a team effort.”

Wishes for your wellness and no falls! Please be careful.

Resources:

National Council on Aging.  https://ncoa.org/older-adults/health/prevention/falls-prevention

Safely You is a San Francisco-based company focused on preventing falls in senior living and skilled nursing. Their well-documented report “The 2022 State of Falls” is available for download on their website.  https://www.safely-you.com/

Universal Design Standards for aging and disabilities  https://aginginplace.com/universal-design/      https://www.buffalo.edu/access/help-and-support/topic3.html#  https://www.forbes.com/sites/amandalauren/2019/07/28/building-and-designing-homes-for-people-with-disabilities/

Dr. Leslie Kernisan’s blog about medications that may cause falls https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/preventing-falls-10-types-of-medications-to-review/

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 healing options for loved ones. She has assessed hundreds of senior housing choices in 16 Mexican states. Her web site is https://www.WellnessShepherd.com.

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

Senior Living Models in Mexico – What Expats May Be Looking at in 2021

Last month Steve Moran, senior housing veteran and colleague, kindly invited me to talk with him about senior living in Mexico. (Steve has experience in Mexico leading humanitarian missions).

We spoke about what I’ve learned and experienced researching healthcare, housing, and hospice in 16 Mexican states, mainly places where expats live.

He asked if there are any Belmont Village or Brookdale style developments. (There is a Belmont Village in Mexico City).

Belmont Village, Santa Fe section, Mexico City

When we finished the chat, I sent Steve an article to post on Senior Living Foresight that outlines what we discussed – current models for senior living and/or senior care in Mexico and what is up and coming.

Not surprisingly American, Canadian, Mexican, and Spanish senior care providers have been looking to expand or initiate development in Mexico.

Here is the link to the article:

Please note:  I do not receive any referral fees or funds from any senior living homes in Mexico.

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.

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!!!!


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

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