Aging, Alzheimer's, Assisted Living, Expats, Health & Wellness, Mexico, Mexico Senior Living, Retirement, Senior Care Mexico, Senior Living

Senior Care/Senior Living Options at Lake Chapala, Mexico

Not long ago I addressed a group of Canadians and Americans at an Open Circle chat at the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic, Mexico. Most of the attendees were full-time residents with the lay of the land, but curious newcomers attended as well.

The most meaningful part of the presentation?  Introducing American and Mexican senior living owners to the audience. After the chat they were able to become acquainted with one another.

In the photo below, four Mexican registered nurse owners are represented. I am the person holding the microphone.

FotoSeniorLivingProvidersLakeChapala
Senior Care Specialist Wendy Jane Carrel introduces owners of Senior Homes at Lake Chapala to Americans and Canadians

Senior Housing Forum posted my article based on the talk.. See http://tinyurl.com/zoz9zdf or https://www.seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2016/8/3/will-mexico-solve-senior-living-affordability-problem  to read the entire piece, or,  read below…

Will Mexico Solve the Senior Living Affordability Problem?

Published on Wed, 08/03/2016 – 4:55pm

By Wendy Jane Carrel, wellnessshepherd.com

If you cannot afford healthcare or retirement in Canada or the U.S., what are your options? Where do you look?

For the last five decades, and especially since the U.S. economic challenges that became apparent in 2007-2008, retirees have been choosing destinations in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Despite news about crime and drug cartels, Mexico reigns as the number one choice for most American and Canadians, primarily because of its lower costs, warmer weather, health care choices, and location so close to home.

According to U.S. Consulates in Mexico there is a current count of between 1.2 – 1.4 million Americans living in Baja California, Cancun, Lake Chapala, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel Allende, and other areas. (The number also includes Americans who are not retired). According to the Canadian Consulate in Guadalajara and the Canadians Abroad Registry, approximately 10,000 Canadians are registered in high season and 1,500 are registered as retired full time in Mexico. Not all Canadians register.

Choices for senior living in Mexico are not all that dissimilar to those in Canada and the U.S.:

  • Aging in Place – independent living in your own home or apartment

  • Aging in Community – co-housing

  • Assisted Living – if you require care and cannot afford full-time care at home

  • Nursing Care and Rehabilitation

Lake Chapala

Currently, at Lake Chapala, Mexico there are in the neighborhood of 20,000 retired Americans and Canadians.

North shore Lake Chapala, which includes the communities of Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec, San Antonio, and San Juan Cosala (40 minutes drive time from one end of north shore to the other), has several options for senior living with others being planned.

What is different from Canada and the U.S. is the cost of living, especially for health care, often up to two-thirds less.

What is also different is that there are no Life Planning (continuing care) models at Lake Chapala. A project was planned three years ago and has yet to be built. There is one, however, that will open in Mexico City sometime this fall.

Another difference is that in Canada and the U.S. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are in separate areas on a campus. In most of Mexico, dementia patients are living and sharing the same space with older adults who have mobility issues, not dementia issues, and the care is rarely specialized.

Mexican senior homes are under the purview of the Ministry of Public Health and local fire departments. They are not tightly regulated and inspected as they are in Canada and the U.S.

What is available at Lake Chapala now?

  • Three co-housing/independent living options – one in Ajijic with three individual apartments and five casitas, a pool, lakeside views, and two meals a day; one in Riberas del Pilar on two levels where residents have their own apartment, are provided with two meals a day, and have access to a library, a gym, and a pool; and one in San Juan Cosala, focusing on health, green living, and sustainability.

    At the first two if you become immobile or develop serious health issues you would need to move. At the property in San Juan Cosala (in development) you can invite caregivers to your living quarters.

  • Three assisted living homes specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia care – one is run by a geriatrician and a nurse, the other two by nurses with doctors on call. One of these homes plans to add a second home in the near future for a total of four dedicated Alzheimer’s care homes at the lake to meet the growing need.

  • Six homes combine assisted living, nursing and some rehabilitation.

    That number climbs to seven if you include two rooms above the offices of a physician in Ajijic (no rehab), and 9 if you include one owner who has three homes (no rehab).

    It climbs to 10 choices with an American-owned recovery care center for plastic surgery (more like a B & B) where you can also rent suites. The recovery center has been in existence for almost 20 years.

    The total number of choices reaches 11 if you include a low-income senior home in Chapala which also has Mexican residents.

  • Four properties have owners who live on site. These properties are either American- or Canadian-owned, or, owned by English-speaking Mexicans who focus on serving the expat community. There usually is one person who speaks English at the senior living options at Lake Chapala.

The above-mentioned places are private pay. Monthly costs for private pay assisted living at Lake Chapala range between $1,000 and $2,000 U.S. per month except for the home in Chapala. (The average U.S. private pay is $3200-$3500, and up to $12,000/month or more for Alzheimer’s care).

Most care homes at the lake have 12 or fewer residents. Service is considered personalized. In many instances there is the quality of “carino,” caregivers treating you like a lovable member of the family.

There are 125 senior living homes in the state of Jalisco, housing 1,723 elders. These numbers include only Mexican citizens. Not included are Americans and Canadians at Lake Chapala or in Puerto Vallarta. There are approximately 758,000 older adults in Jalisco state.

In Guadalajara, an hour from Lake Chapala, there are three models of senior care – private pay, non-profit care primarily with nuns (usually excellent quality), and government care (usually DIF, a social services entity that exists throughout Mexico). Prices range from gratis for the indigent to around $400-$800 U.S. for those with pensions, and up to $3500 U.S. for private pay.

Note: I have met Americans with incomes of $600 or less/month who are living comfortably and safely in Mexican assisted living homes throughout the country.

Resources:

Canadian retirees make new homes in Mexico

Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia National Institute of Statistics and Geography

US State Department – Relations with Mexico

* Cover photo of Lake Chapala courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
** Map of Lake Chapala region courtesy of mexico-insights.com

 

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Aging, Assisted Living, End-of-Life Care, Health & Wellness, Senior Housing Security, Senior Living

International Women’s Day – Honoring An Ethiopian Woman Who Rescues Older Adults

It is March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day.

There are amazing women (and men) on our planet. There are many whom we can honor – some are known, others are silently making contributions to advance humanity.

Last night I read a Help Age International article about Assegedech, referred to as the Mother Teresa of Ethiopia. I felt it would be fitting to pay tribute to her on this special day.

Assegedech’s story is heart-warming and inspiring. It’s a tale of a generous, sensitive woman from humble origins who happened to inherit a large property. She noted in an interview that she was fortunate to have a good father and a compassionate husband, both of whom were open to caring for those with less. She’s been on her own for many years now… in a big way.

With the support of Help Age International Assegedech expanded her home into a compound which houses almost 90 destitute older adults. It is, in addition, a sustainable community. Assegedech empowers the residents  by offering them meaningful work in the gardens, if they are able. She keeps them active to their last days.  She offers them a life of dignity.

Photo and by-line from Help Age InternationalAssegedech smiles in her garden

Despite being in her 70s, Assegedech Asfaw shows no sign of slowing down.

Many blessings for Assegedech and all others who come to the aid of abandoned, frail, vulnerable elders on a daily basis. Photos of the Ethiopian seniors can be found in the link below. The full story is worth reading.

Aging, Assisted Living, Emergency Preparedness, Health & Wellness, Mental Health, Retirement, Senior Housing Security, Senior Living

Housing Security for Older Adults, Syria and the U.S., Three Stories

Below are two American tales, and one Syrian tale, each bringing up an important global issue for older adults – housing security.

This week the Washington Post published an article by Peter Holley about an elderly woman who has been asked to leave the only home she has known for decades, a rented cottage. Apparently, the owner has chosen not to honor the verbal agreement of the previous owner, whom he was related to. The situation could become a death sentence for the tenant in more ways than one, if indeed, she must leave.

Here’s a link to Story #1:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/24/its-a-death-sentence-facing-eviction-97-year-old-woman-could-wind-up-on-streets/

Here is a photo of 97-year-old Marie taken by her neighbor Lisa Kriger:

 

If you work your entire life to build what you have, and you cherish and are thankful for it, why should comfort and a sense of security be taken away if you are elderly, vulnerable, and not blessed with infinite financial resources?  What are the possible solutions? Moving and making major changes at an advanced age is not easy.

Furthermore, is it Marie’s fault society is crumbling down and things are drastically changing? Could she have known to prepare? No matter where she moves, if it turns out she has to move, it will be psychologically and physically traumatic. Since she may not be able to afford to move, it means she cannot afford to move to senior living, even though the article mentions she was asked about it. As a former senior living administrator I can comment that some seniors, not all, have a hard time adapting to senior living even if they can afford it, especially if they are mentally competent and independent minded.

I trust someone can help Marie and others in her situation create healthful ways to maintain independence, dignity, and sanity.The only saving grace seems to be that Marie has children. I hope they are in a position to come to the rescue.

Story #2  I recently witnessed a situation with an unhappy outcome, similar to Marie’s

A building on my block in West Hollywood was being torn down to build condos (each condo currently worth between $1-$2 million). Most of the tenants were elders under rent control who could not afford to move. Result? Almost every single elder died within the six months or year they were given to leave. No kidding. Heart-rending.

What are the lessons in this?  Could Marie or the seniors of West Hollywood have known to prepare for such an eventuality? Should we learn to be flexible, start paring down to basic clothing and furniture at age 50, give up all that makes us comfortable and content, and not enjoy what we worked to create?  If Marie were Buddhist, and attached to very little, it would still be a challenge to make a move because of one main factor, age.  Added stress as we age can be a contributing factor to a faster demise.

Story #3 takes the issue a step further.

Imagine being an 80 year old Syrian woman who has watched her loved ones killed, her home bombed, and has somehow managed to get to the Jordanian border for rescue. She is alone, has no clothing except what she is wearing, no funds of any kind, no way to make a living, and her home is a camp until a proper roof can be found, if one can be found. She is totally dependent on people she does not know. Quite frankly, at age 80, how would she have the energy to keep on despite the deep trauma and loss she must be feeling? What if she has a chronic health condition and needs meds?  What would it be like to live in exile? She is one of tens of thousands in this inhumane situation created by external circumstances.

For further reading on elder challenges around the world and in Syria, see the on-going rescue efforts being made by Help Age International, http://www.helpage.org . See also one of many stories posted on Syrian elders in exile at http://www.helpage.org/newsroom/press-room/press-releases/syria-three-years-on-older-refugees-in-exile-the-silent-casualties/.  Another telling story with facts about how disabled and elderly refugees are treated is at this link…  https://medium.com/@DFID_Inclusive/minimum-standards-for-age-and-disability-inclusion-in-humanitarian-action-e1932b32c141#.jd4061wxv .

Addendum:

At a recent conference on The Future of Housing for Grown-Ups: A National and Local Perspective, Dr. Anand Pareka, Senior Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center is quoted as saying

“I’m quickly realizing that housing is in many ways health. It’s a very important determinant of health.”

Addendum 2:

Liz Seegert of the Association of Health Journalists wrote an excellent piece about those who live with the stress of homelessness… they age faster than those who have a roof over their heads.

See http://healthjournalism.org/blog/2016/04/homeless-get-older-at-younger-ages-than-their-peers-research-says/#more-27689 

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

Cuenca, Ecuador Nun Honored for Work with Indigent Older Adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Guidelines for Choosing a Healthful Home or Apartment in Ecuador

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

See http://cuencahighlife.com/choosing-the-right-environments-for-healthful-living/

wide doors for easy access, glass panels for energy of light
wide doors for easy access, glass door panels for energy of light
concrete pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer when raining
concrete entry pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer to walk on when raining
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
Aging, Ecuador, End-of-Life Care, Expats, Living Abroad, Retirement, Senior Living

Why Creating an End-of-Life Plan When Living Abroad Is a Good Idea

Here below is a link to an article I wrote that was posted on CuencaHighLife.  It’s about the importance of creating an end-of-life plan if you live in Ecuador.  The bigger message is that it is wise to have such a plan in place where ever you chose to live.

Ecuador, is ruled by civil law. North America and England are ruled by common law. Different systems, different procedures.

Why creating an end-of-life plan in Ecuador is a good idea for expats | CuencaHighLife.

 

Camposanto Santa Ana, a    cemetery in Cuenca, Ecuador
Camposanto Santa Ana, a
cemetery in Cuenca, Ecuador
Assisted Living, Health & Wellness, Mexico Senior Living, Retirement, Senior Living, Senior Services

Mexico’s AMAR Hosts Senior Living Convention w/ North American Investors & Retirees

AMAR, the Mexican Association of Retirement Communities (Asociacion Mexicana de Asistencia en el Retiro), is hosting AMAR’s International Convention 2014 at Rosarita Beach Hotel, Rosarita Beach, Baja California, October 23-25, for North American and Mexican senior housing industry professionals and the public. Rosarito Beach is 20 miles south of San Diego, CA in Mexico.

The event focus, part of a continuing dialogue, is how to attract a portion of North American Baby Boomers over the coming years to senior-friendly, affordable destinations in Mexico with ideal weather,  health services, infrastructure, and proximity to the U.S. It is anticipated that of 100 million boomers in Canada and the U.S., 4 million will consider living in Mexico. According to Internet statistics, there are currently 1,400,000 to 1,600,000 U.S. citizens living in Mexico, not all retirees.

Experienced Canadian and U.S. senior living developers, operators, and executives will meet to discuss collaboration possibilities with Mexican developers and investors.

Among the 22 scheduled speakers are Americans Martin Lakatos, VP and developer for California based Front Porch Development Company; Patricia Will, CEO of Belmont Village Senior Living (23 Assisted Living properties across the U.S. and one in development in Mexico City); and Matthew J. Downs of the Center for Medicare Portability. Javier Govi, Founder & CEO of AMAR; Ignacio Bernal of FONATUR (a Mexican government entity which plans and develops top tourist destinations); and Rodrigo Contreras Mejia of PROMEXICO (a Mexican government trust for international trade and investment) will be among the speakers from Mexico.

Subjects will include elements for successful operation of CCRC’s, active senior living, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care with holistic/wellness-based concepts, eco-friendly LEED-certified construction, universal design, and health information technology. Topics will also include the state of MOM and POP projects, aging in place communities where services come to you, and Medicare in Mexico. (Medicare is not yet accessible outside the U.S. unless under rare circumstances. American seniors can purchase Medigap emergency plans C, D, F, G, M, or N with a $250 deductible).

Lic. Javier Govi, Founder & CEO AMAR
Lic. Javier Govi, Founder & CEO AMAR

When asked about the current state of senior living and its future in Mexico, AMAR’s Javier Govi stated, “We currently cater to the mom and pop market, the parents of baby boomers. We are simultaneously transitioning to meet the needs of boomers who have begun to retire. We have spent years studying this market, looking at the history, and visualizing the future. The important components for boomers will be wellness, fitness, and a holistic approach.”

An adjunct part of the event is the 50+ Expo and Workshops for Healthy Living where the public can learn about senior living options in Mexico.

AMAR Friends Foundation, which helps retirees find independent or assisted living in Mexico, is sponsoring the 50+ Expo. Seminars are designed “to answer questions from banking to moving belongings, and what is involved in obtaining a residential visa,” added Govi. The expo also includes product displays and music. The foundation will soon be providing social service projects for poor elderly Mexicans through its North American volunteers. See http://www.amarfriends.org.

AMAR, founded in 2007, is the first national Mexican non-profit organization committed to educate and collaborate with Mexican government regulatory agencies and business executives in Mexico and North America on the potential of the senior housing industry in Mexico.

For more information on the event go to http://www.amar.org.mx, write info@amar.org.mx, or call San Diego, CA number (619)564-4007.