Nursing Homes at Lake Chapala – Ajijic

July 14, 2008

A very informative article in USA Today recently caught my eye that I wanted to pass on to all of you for general informational purposes.


The Nursing homes here in the Lake Chapala – Ajijic area from all appearances are caring and well run. OK, Here’s the article.


“Seniors head south to Mexican nursing homes

By Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

AJIJIC, Mexico — After Jean Douglas turned 70, she realized she couldn’t take care of herself anymore. Her knees were giving out, and winters in Bandon, Ore., were getting harder to bear alone.

Douglas was shocked by the high cost and impersonal care at assisted-living facilities near her home. After searching the Internet for other options, she joined a small but steadily growing number of Americans who are moving across the border to nursing homes in Mexico, where the sun is bright and the living is cheap.

For $1,300 a month — a quarter of what an average nursing home costs in Oregon — Douglas gets a studio apartment, three meals a day, laundry and cleaning service, and 24-hour care from an attentive staff, many of whom speak English. She wakes up every morning next to a glimmering mountain lake, and the average annual high temperature is a toasty 79 degrees.

“It is paradise,” says Douglas, 74. “If you need help living or coping, this is the place to be. I don’t know that there is such a thing back (in the USA), and certainly not for this amount of money.”

As millions of baby boomers reach retirement age and U.S. health care costs soar, Mexican nursing home managers expect more American seniors to head south in coming years. Mexico’s proximity to the USA, low labor costs and warm climate make it attractive, although residents caution that quality of care varies greatly in an industry that is just getting off the ground here.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: American | Mexico | Mexican | San Miguel de Allende

An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 American retirees already live in Mexico, many of them in enclaves like San Miguel de Allende or the Chapala area, says David Warner, a University of Texas public affairs professor who has studied the phenomenon. There are no reliable data on how many are living in nursing homes, but at least five such facilities are on Lake Chapala alone.

“You can barely afford to live in the United States anymore,” said Harry Kislevitz, 78, of New York City. A stroke victim, he moved to a convalescent home on the lake’s shore two years ago and credits the staff with helping him recover his speech and ability to walk.

“Here you see the birds, you smell the air, and it’s delicious,” Kislevitz said. “You feel like living.”

Many expatriates are Americans or Europeans who retired here years ago and are now becoming more frail. Others are not quite ready for a nursing home but are exploring options such as in-home health care services, which can provide Mexican nurses at a fraction of U.S. prices.

“As long as the economies of the United States and Europe continue to be strong, we’re going to see people coming here to Latin America to pass their final days,” said Oscar Cano, manager of Apoyo a los Miguelenses Ancianos, a non-profit group that runs a nursing home in San Miguel de Allende.

Cozy cottage, meals, health care

Retirement homes are relatively new in Mexico, where the aging usually live with family. There is little government regulation. Some places have suddenly gone bankrupt, forcing American residents to move. Some Mexican homes have rough edges, such as peeling paint or frayed sofas, that would turn off many Americans.

“I don’t think they’re for everyone,” said Thomas Kessler, whose mother suffers from manic depression and lives at a home in Ajijic. “But basically, they’ve kept our family finances from falling off a cliff.”

Residents such as Richard Slater say they are happy in Mexico. Slater came to Lake Chapala four years ago and now lives in his own cottage at the Casa de Ancianos, surrounded by purple bougainvillea and pomegranate trees.

He has plenty of room for his two dogs and has a little patio that he shares with three other American residents. He gets 24-hour nursing care and three meals a day, cooked in a homey kitchen and served in a sun-washed dining room. His cottage has a living room, bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom and a walk-in closet.

For this Slater pays $550 a month, less than one-tenth of the going rate back home in Las Vegas. For another $140 a year, he gets full medical coverage from the Mexican government, including all his medicine and insulin for diabetes.

“This would all cost me a fortune in the United States,” said Slater, a 65-year-old retired headwaiter.

On a recent afternoon, lunch at the Casa de Ancianos consisted of vegetable soup, beet salad, Spanish rice, baked dogfish stuffed with peppers, garlic bread and a choice of four cakes and two Jell-O salads. Slater’s neighbor doesn’t like Mexican food, so a nursing home employee cooks whatever she wants on a stove beside her bed.

Like many retirees, Slater has satellite television, so he doesn’t miss any American news or programs. When he wants to see a movie or go shopping downtown, the taxi ride is only $2-$3. Guadalajara, a culturally rich city of 4 million people, is just 30 miles away.

For medical care, Slater relies on the Mexican Social Security Institute, or IMSS, which runs clinics and hospitals nationwide and allows foreigners to enroll in its program even if they never worked in Mexico or paid taxes to support the system. He recently had gallbladder surgery in an IMSS hospital in Guadalajara, and he paid nothing.

Many of the nursing home employees speak English, and so does Slater’s doctor.

The Casa de Ancianos began taking in foreigners in 2000 as part of an effort to raise extra money, director Marlene Dunham said. It built the cottages especially for the Americans and uses the income received from them to subsidize the costs of the 20 Mexican residents at the home.

The program was so successful that the nursing home has plans for 12 more cottages, a swimming pool, a Jacuzzi and a gazebo with picnic area. The nursing home now advertises on the Internet and through pamphlets distributed in town. Some U.S. companies have also begun investing in assisted-living facilities in Mexico, said Larry Minnix, president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents 5,800 nursing homes and related services.

However, Minnix cautioned that lax government regulation poses dangers at smaller homes.

“It’s the same danger you have of going across the border looking for cheap medications,” Minnix said. “If you don’t know what you’re getting, and you’re not getting it from people you trust, then you’ve got an accident waiting to happen.”

‘Nice place, but it’s lonesome’

Since many nursing homes are run out of private homes, regulation by state health departments is often spotty. Managers such as Beverly Ward of Casa Nostra and Maura Funes of El Paraiso, both in Ajijic, said that Mexican officials inspect them only once a year, unlike U.S. inspectors, who may visit a home several times a year.

The U.S. Embassy said it had no record of complaints against Mexican nursing homes, but some residents in the Lake Chapala area reported bad experiences at now-defunct homes.

The first home that Jean Douglas lived in after she moved from Oregon was staffed by “gossips and thieves,” she said. It went out of business.

Irene Chiara of Los Angeles also lived in a home that was shut down by Jalisco state authorities.

“It was filthy, and the food was very bad. It was all made in the microwave,” she said.

Some Mexican managers also underestimate the costs and difficulty of running a retirement home. Two hotels turned into assisted-living facilities, The Spa in San Miguel de Allende and The Melville in the Pacific Coast city of Mazatlán, recently abandoned the business, their managers said.

“It was very expensive to run it,” said Luis Terán, manager of The Melville.

Some managers said they were especially selective when admitting foreign residents, to make sure they’ll be able to pay. Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most U.S. insurance companies will not cover care or medicine as long as patients are outside the United States.

Some American residents said they had doubts about the quality of Mexican medical facilities and would go back to the United States if they became seriously ill. Jim May, 74, a resident of the Casa de Ancianos, said he recently decided to move to Texas to be closer to Veterans Affairs hospitals.

The language barrier can be daunting, and Mexican food can be very different, some residents said.

Some residents said they miss home and find it hard to make friends with Mexican residents. “It’s a very nice place, but it’s lonesome,” said Polly Coull, 99, of Seminole, Fla., a resident at Alicia’s Convalescent Nursing Home in Ajijic.

Mexican entrepreneurs are doing their best to prepare for a tide of Americans.

In the Baja Peninsula town of Ensenada, the Residencia Lourdes opened in 2003, offering care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. The towns around Lake Chapala have at least five small retirement homes. Most of them opened in the last five years and house from one to 25 foreigners.

The largest, Alicia’s Convalescent Nursing Home, consists of four renovated homes, one of them specializing in stroke victims and another for Alzheimer’s patients. Prices range from $1,000 to $1,500 a month and include everything except medicine and adult diapers. The rooms are outfitted in Mexican style, with murals, hand-carved beds, arched ceilings lined with brick and individual patios.

In other American enclaves, in-home nursing services have sprung up to serve the retirees. In Rosarito, just south of the U.S. border, INCARE provides nursing aides to retirees starting at $8.33 an hour, less than half the cost of the same service in nearby San Diego.

Developers look to Mexico

Developers of “independent living” facilities for seniors are also beginning to look to Mexico. A Spanish-U.S. venture is building Sensara Vallarta, a 250-unit condominium complex aimed at Americans 50 and older in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta. And in the northern city of Monterrey, El Legado is marketing itself as a “home resort” for seniors.

Academics and government officials are beginning to take notice. In March, the University of Texas at Austin held a forum for developers, hospital officials, insurance companies and policymakers to discuss health care for retirees in Mexico.

“With the right facilities in place, Mexico could give (American retirees) a better quality of life at a better price than they could find in the United States,” says Flavio Olivieri, a member of Tijuana’s Economic Development Council, which is seeking funding from Mexico’s federal government to build more retirement homes. “We think this could be a very good business as these baby boomers reach retirement age,” he says.

Hawley is the Latin America correspondent for The Arizona Republic and USA TODAY. “



  • Noemi Nahuát Hernández

    Es muy bueno su programa!! pero quiero hacerle una pregunta. Que costo tiene para un mexicano el vivir en la residencia para personas de la tercera edad? Gracias.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Noemi, Thanks for your nice comments and question. I embarrassed to admit that I don’t write very well in Spanish so I’m answering you in English.

    And for the other readers let me give you my brief translation of Noemi’s Comments. She complimented our website and then asked a question about what the costs would be for a Mexican person to live in one of the area’s nursing or assisted living facilities.

    Noemi, the last time I spoke to representatives of our local assisted living centers the cost per person was approximately $1100 USD per month.

    Best to contact the Assisted Living Centers directly to be sure of the current costs and plans available.

    Here’s contact information:

    La Cosa Nostra – Tel from the USA = 011 52 376 765 – 4187 in the Riberas del Pilar Development between Chapala and Ajijic.

    Alicia’s Retirement and Nursing – Tel from USA = 011 52 376 766-0721 located West of Ajijic in La Canacinta

    I hope this helps. All for now. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Jim hybarger

    I am interested in your facilities for my 87 year old mother who is afflicted with dementia.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jim, Sorry to be a little slow in answering your question. I’ve just returned from a trip to Texas (See my recent comments to other Club Members).

    Let me refer you to several articles in the Club Archives which should answer most of your questions.

    Here are the links to make them easy to find:

    I hope these articles answer your questions, but if you still have questions it’s probably best to contact one or more of the facilities directly. But, if I can help in some way, let me know.

    All for now. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

    All for now. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Gwen Harris

    Loved this information. But now it’s a year later June 09 and the economy has changed things. Can you update the information here as far as living as a retiree in Mexico and the quality of care Mexico can provide for ex-pats? Thanks!

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Guen, Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    So, let me update you. The fees for nursing home care creep up a little each year, but the exchange rate for dollars has out paced the inflation here.

    What that means is that your dollars will buy even more here than when the article was written.

    Of course it’s best to contact the nursing homes directly to see about space availability and current pricing.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

    P.S. Here’s contact info.

    La Cosa Nostra – Tel from the USA = 011 52 376 765 – 4187 in the Riberas del Pilar Development between Chapala and Ajijic.

    Alicia’s Retirement and Nursing – Tel from USA = 011 52 376 766-0721 located West of Ajijic in La Canacinta



  • Sid Grosvenor

    The Comment above is really an Advertisement for a new place in Ajijic. I’m not at this point endorsing the firm, but It looks interesting, so I allowed it to be posted.

    It looks like my kind of exercise. Slow!

    So, you guys let me know if you try them out and report back to us here, OK. Sid

  • Mick Bowers

    I have been involved in dog therapy work for almost seven years visiting various nursing homes, the Veterans Administration medical facility, Saint Vincent’s Center for Abusd children. My dog has passed the AKC’s CGC Test, won the Leonberger Club of America’s Therapy Dog Award and we have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 2008 and will be awarded it again for 2009. I am moving to the Ajijic area later this Spring and wonder if a started a nonprofit volunteer organization similiar to Pets on Wheels would the nursing homes in the area like to have visits from trained therapy dogs?

    Mick Bowers

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Mick, Thanks for your question. I feel certain that the area Nursing homes would be glad to have visits from trained therapy dogs. I know of one home in LaFloresta that has several community pets for their residents. Great idea ! Sid

  • Mike

    Hi Sid! Iam really intrested in to moving to Mexico – i still remember it since my childhood – nice people, wonderful weather and especially now we are at the point when our elder mother really needs professional help.Dont know what to start with – shoud we find nursing home first and get especial invitation or just try to chose from several while already in Mexico? Would really appreciate your answer…

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Mike, Thanks for your comment. I would do both. Research on line to see what might be available… and then come to check them out and perhaps find one or more that may not have an on line presence.

    I know of two in our area that as far as I know do not have a web site.

    Hope this helps. Sid

  • william mckeever


    Am hoping to move to ajijic in la canacita and was wondering if you can give me any idea as to the number of americans who currently live there and as to how old they are.

    Can you also give me an idea as to how much the monthly costs are?


    Bill McKeever

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi William, Your expenses will be a little lower there I think, but not significantly.

    Yes, there are a number of North Americans who live in that area, A couple of new developments are also in the area.

    Hope you enjoy the area. If you decide to buy anywhere at Lake Chapala please let us know so we can hook you up with a Dream Team Buyers Only Realtor to look after your interests. We’d like to help, Sid

  • Diane

    Hey Sid. Really desperate and needing help. Need to relocate my father. How much for assisted living/nursing homes in your area? I have 3 kids, another on the way, due Nov 22. Both folks are retired and only my husband works. I am a stay at home mom. Mom and I are overwhelmed. Thanks, Diane

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Diane,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve herd from $1,300 USD and up.

    Here’s a few to look into:

    Alcia’s Retirement and Nursing Home 011 52 376 766 0721
    Blue House NUrsing HOme 011 52 376 766 156
    Casa Del Lago – 011 52 376 765 2497 & 765 – 5689
    La Casa Nostra – 011 52 376 765 4187
    La Sagrada Familia 011 52 376 762 – 1425

    Let us know what you find out.

    Hope this helps. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Joanne


    A simple question. Is Blue House Nursing Home a new facility?

    I sent an inquiry, with quick response. They said a Dr. Martinez is the owner, but I could find nothing on him. He is supposed to be in Geriatrics.

    If you have any info, it would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Joanne, Yes, they are new to our area. This year is the first listing I’ve seen for them in our local directory.

    Sorry, I don;t have any more information on them. Sid

  • Christine


    I am trying to help my brother find a couple of care facilities to visit for the eventual care of my sister in law with Alzheimer’s Disease. They are familiar with the Mazatlan area but open to other areas.
    She will need 24 hr care but more of an aide versus nursing care.
    Thank you. Any suggestions are appreciated.


  • Sid Grosvenor

    HI Christine,

    Here are a few contacts from our local directory for Assisted living and nursing homes..

    LaSagrada Famila E mail =

    Telephone from USA = 011 52 376 762 1425

    It’s located on the North side of the Mountain a few miles from Lake Chapala.

    Alcia’s Retirement & Nursing
    011 52 376 7660721 from USA

    Casa de Ancianos 011 52 376 765 – 2497 and 765- 5689

    Blue House Nursing Home – 011 52 376 766 1256 (
    La Casa Nostra – 011 52 376 764 4187

    NOTE: I’d recommend having a bi lingual friend call and ask for the Manager at these facilities who more than likely will speak basic English.

    I’ve visited La Cosa Nostra several years ago and it looked nice to me.

    Several years ago they were quoting just over $1,000 USD per month for everything. Fees are likely higher now.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Jorge Ascencio

    I have 1.5 year experience as a caregiver. Received experience working in a nursing home. I took care of 10 people during the day shift. I have great reference. I’m working privately and currently nursing an 84year 6’6” 170 pounds men. I don’t administer any medication unless I have a prescription. I have an extra room and would love the opportunity to take care of another patient. All I ask is 300 u.s. for rent + food and diaper, ext. + 160 a week with 1 day off. my peferenc are people who need nursing care. I understand it’s almost the same price of a nursing home. I will provide full care and attention because it would only be two patients I would care for and will provide field trips around the local area. I have doctors and nurses whom I work with. This is my Vonage number (702)448-1006 for more info. My location is close to the ajijic area.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jorge, Thanks for your comments. I normally do not permit posts like yours.

    So, I want to add a disclaimer here to all who may read it.

    I do not endorse Jorge Ascencio and post his comment solely in the hope that it may help someone.

    Sid Grosvenor

  • Jorge A.

    Pardon my intrusion. I wasn’t sure what could be said on a post. Thank you for posting mine. I understand finding a place for the elderly is a sensitive subject. If you live around ajijic, maybe you can come and meet my patient. Caregiven is a field I’m interested in. Thank you very much

  • Jorge A.

    Thank you very much Mr. Grsvenor

  • Carol

    Jorge, thank you for your post. There are many people who would be interested in your care. I do caregiving in my home for persons with disabilities in the U.S. What you are doing is wonderful, and much more home-like than a nursing home. I think this type of service could become the trend in the future as more people grow old and have no family to take care of them. Jorge, you may be onto something that will become more popular in the Chapala area. Thank you Sid for this post…I think it is a great addition to your site…..this type of care may be something people want to know about who want to move to Chapala, like me, and worry about what they will do when they are too old to live alone. In-home care is preferable to an insitution/asilo any day, in my opinion. Thanks again!

  • Erin Mc Nulty

    This article on elder care, be it nursing home or other, was very informative. Thanks so much. This situation has been on my mind as of late due to a severe fall that hampered my getting around. Y como deses tu, siempre tu amiga!

  • Jett

    Hello, Thanks for all the wonderful information here. I have a husband with Parkinson’s-getting dementia. We are here on the Baja in La paz. Are there any services or organizations that help with in home care? I don’t even know where to start. Thanks

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jeff, Your kind words are appreciated, Tu amigo, Sid

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Thanks to Bob for his kind words.

    Yes, Jett, we have a number of nursing facilities, You may also just need in home help.

    A good way t find this help is to put a note on the Lake Chapala Society bulletin board in the hopes that a member may know of a Mexican person with the skills and caring attitude that you want.

    It;s just a matter of matching up the needs of each side.

    Failing that put up your own bulletin board ads on the various bulletin boards around the area in front of Wal-Mart, SuperLake and El Torito Supermarkets.

    Hope this helps, Tu amigo, Sid

    P.S. If I can help with real estate, let me know.

  • james curet

    seeking info and email address hook-ups for mexican nursing homes. would like to make the move in feb. require diabetic friendly meals and very small pet friendly facility OR living situation. i do not require much care thanks james curet

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi James, Check out the article below articles on our site:

    An easy way to get them up on your screen in a click-able form is to just put

    “” followed by the words “Nursing Homes” in a Google search box and “click” and a list of clickable articles will appear. Just click on the ones you want to read.

    Ole! Seniors Choosing Nursing Homes in Mexico : Chapala Club…/ole-seni... – Estados Unidos – Traducir esta página
    5 May 2010 – There are no reliable data on how many are living in nursing homes, but at least five such facilities are on Lake Chapala. “You can barely afford …
    Nursing Homes : Chapala Club…/nursing... – Estados Unidos – Traducir esta página

    Many of the nursing home employees speak basic English and almost all of the doctors are bi lingual. Caring and Love are the same in both languages. …
    Nursing Homes at Lake Chapala – Ajijic : Chapala Club…/nursing... – Estados Unidos – Traducir esta página
    14 Jul 2008 – The Nursing homes here in the Lake Chapala – Ajijic area from all appearances are caring and well run. OK, Here’s the article. “Seniors head …
    New Lake Chapala Ajijic Elder Care at Affordable … – Chapala Club…/new-lak... – Estados Unidos – Traducir esta página

    14 Jul 2010 – I just discovered a brand new Elderly Care home, that really is a home. Located in a convenient, safe,and beautiful area of Lake Chapala in an …

    You can also go to the “ALL CLUB POSTS” tap at the top of our HOME PAGE and click the link.

    A drop down box of all our past articles will slide down. Just click on the ones about Nursing Homes etc. of interest.

    Hope you find something that helps. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Andrew

    Your writng is too Americanized if you find discrepancies in Mexican living than it’s not made for you, if you buck the system by not wanting to lurn some Spanish than it’s not for you.
    Quit complaining, smile, be humble not superior cause you are not, help don’t dictate, make yourself lovable not hatered as most of Am. do.
    Finaly the Mexican life is beautiful, I.e. Wonderful people, best weather on earth and affordable living.

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