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

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.

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