New Mexico Residential Alzheimer’s Care (Memory Care): Laws, Costs & Financial Help

Last Updated: March 21, 2024


New Mexico regulations say assisted living communities must provide room and board while supporting activities of daily living and offering intermittent nursing care. For an assisted living community to house residents with dementia in memory care units, they must also have:

– Added security to control and prevent wandering
– Enhanced activities that are appropriate for residents with dementia
– Staff that has undergone special training

Someone who needs full-time nursing care may not be admitted into assisted living in New Mexico.

Memory care homes are inspected and approved by the state’s Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement. There are approximately 40 memory care homes in New Mexico, varying in size. They range from large, apartment-complex-style residences to smaller homes for 12 or fewer people called board and care homes. For free help finding memory care in New Mexico to meet your family’s needs and budget, click here.

 Did You Know? About 13% of people over 65 in New Mexico have Alzheimer’s disease. This is one of the highest rates in the country. The number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow from 43,000 in 2020 to 53,000 by 2025.


How Much Does Memory Care Cost in New Mexico?

The average cost of memory care in 2024 is $5,884 per month. New Mexico averages the same as the national average for memory care. New Mexico’s most expensive city for memory care is Santa Fe, where the average cost is $7,592 per month. One of the least expensive places for memory care is Farmington, where it runs $5,208 monthly. In Albuquerque, the cost is $6,201 per month.

 Did You Know? Families in New Mexico, with a loved one with dementia, can receive free assistance finding memory care homes that meet their needs and budget. Get help here.

Even though New Mexico runs the middle of the road compared to the rest of the country, people living near the borders to the east and west may find more options and more affordable memory care. Arizona and Texas average a little less overall in their memory care costs. Arizona, to the west, runs $5,248 monthly and Texas, to the east and south, is $5,208 per month. El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican border south of New Mexico and less than an hour from Las Cruces, costs $4,889 monthly.

New Mexico Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Mar. 2024)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $193 $5,884
Albuquerque $204 $6,201
Las Cruces $193 $5,884
Santa Fe $249 $7,592
Farmington $172 $5,208


New Mexico Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

 COVID-19 Measures (updated Sept. 2022)
Residents – Their temperatures are checked and patients are also tested regularly.
Visitors – Can visit loved ones, must wear a mask and temperature is checked upon entry.
Staff – Have temperatures checked upon entry and are regularly tested.

Admissions Process & Requirements

A resident evaluation is required within 15 days of moving into assisted living in New Mexico. This is to determine the level of care and assistance needed and if the home is a good fit. The evaluation is conducted by a medical professional who works for the facility, and establishes a baseline of the patient’s functional status (what they are capable of physically and mentally). It must be updated at least every six months and include the following:

– Cognitive abilities
– Communication/hearing ability
– Vision
– Physical abilities and skeletal problems
– Psychological well-being
– Mood and behavior
– Incontinence
– Activity interest
– Medical history
– Nutritional status
– Dental status
– Skin conditions
– Medications used
– Level of assistance needed with activities of daily living
– Special medical needs

The evaluation is an important step in developing an individualized care plan. This means staff will be able to understand your loved one and how to keep them safe, healthy, and stimulated. The cost of this evaluation might be included in the basic rate, or it may be part of a one-time community fee that covers up-front move-in costs. Community fees usually run between $1,500 to $2,500.

Before moving in, a resident must receive a written copy of the residence’s rules concerning residents’ rights and legal rights. These must include:

– Policies on smoking, alcohol, telephone, television, radio use, and pets
– Use and safekeeping of personal property
– Meal availability and times
– Use of common areas

New Mexico assisted living facilities are not required by law to provide a written statement of all costs. When considering a memory care home, ask for a breakdown of all costs in writing including those considered optional. Keep this document in case there are ever discrepancies in billing.

Regulations say assisted living with memory care is for residents who have been diagnosed with dementia, but this is not always true. An official diagnosis can be difficult to make, because Alzheimer’s and related dementias share symptoms that can vary and change over time. It is more important to treat the symptoms and match your loved one in the right home, than to have an official diagnosis.


Facility / Residence

Resident bedrooms must be at least 100 square feet for one person or 160 square feet for two people. Two people is the maximum number allowed in one resident unit in New Mexico. One toilet, sink, and bath or shower must be provided for every eight residents. Assisted living with memory care must have surveillance and security measures (including special locks) that are appropriate for people with dementia who may be prone to wandering.

New Mexico regulations do not require that memory care homes be designed with architectural features that are friendly to people with dementia. These might include clear sight lines to limit confusion and hallways that run circular so someone who is walking won’t run into a dead end. Time outside has also been proven to help people with dementia, and in many states, design elements like a secure outdoor space are required by law. Be sure to inspect a home carefully before moving in, with an eye on whether it will be comfortable for your loved one.


Staff & Training

There is no staff to patient ratio in New Mexico. There must always be enough employees working to assist residents at all times. One employee must be awake and on duty throughout the night.

Memory care staffers need to complete 12 hours of dementia-related training per year. This is in addition to the training required for all assisted-living employees, covering:

– 16 hours of supervised training prior to providing unsupervised care

– 12 hours of annual training on fire safety, first aid, safe food handling, resident rights, infection control, reporting requirements for abuse and neglect, safe transportation, and providing quality care based on residents’ needs

Administrators must be at least 21 years old, pass a criminal background check, have relevant experience within the assisted living industry, and be certified as an administrator by the state.


Evictions & Discharges

Someone who requires 24-hour nursing care may not be admitted into assisted living in New Mexico. If a resident’s medical status changes so that full-time nursing care becomes necessary, then an eviction will be required. This rule does not apply to residents receiving hospice. Someone who requires physical or chemical restraints or is a danger to themselves or others, may also be evicted.

Unlike other states, New Mexico does not specify a certain number of days’ notice before someone must leave. The usual warning time is 30 days, but it’s possible your loved one will be asked to leave immediately. Because of this, it’s very important to be clear on the eviction policy before signing the move-in agreement. Ask these questions: Can someone be evicted for late payments? Will assistance be provided to find a new home that’s more appropriate? Get the answers to these questions in writing, because unfair evictions can be a problem nationwide. If you receive an eviction notice and need to know what to do next, click here.


Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

New Mexico Medicaid’s Centennial Care Community Benefit

This program is part of New Mexico’s Medicaid and is also commonly referred to as New Mexico Centennial Care. Designed to support and promote independent living, covered benefits aid those who qualify to avoid needing into a nursing home. Enrollees can live in their own homes, that of a loved one, or an assisted living facility. Benefits are based upon an individual’s need and can include assistance with activities of daily living, adult daycare, home modifications, transportation, skilled nursing, and respite care. Participants have the option between Agency-Based Community Benefit, in which the state chooses care providers, and Self-Directed Community Benefit care, where the enrollee chooses their care provider. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible in New Mexico. Eligibility guidelines in 2024 include a maximum monthly income of under $2,829, countable assets less than $2,000, and a medical need for a nursing home level of care. For more information, visit the program’s website by clicking here. To apply, do so online by clicking here or calling (855) 637-6574. To see if your loved one qualifies, take a quick and easy Medicaid eligibility test here.


Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Among the reasons for this is that traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder lead to a higher probability of developing the condition. The VA offers many benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as different pension types.


VA Pensions

There are three types of VA Pensions available. The benefits change annually and are valid from December 2023 to December 2024. The benefits (and their maximum allowance) are as follows:

1) Basic Pension – This benefit is also known as a death pension. It is for veterans and surviving spouses who are aged or disabled. The qualifying disability does not need to be related to their military service. On an annual basis, the Basic Pension pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children up to $16,551

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children up to $21,674

– Surviving spouses without dependent children up to $11,102

2) Aid & Attendance – Abbreviated as A&A, this is an important program for veterans and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living. This means they need assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. A&A is particularly helpful for people with dementia, especially in the middle and later stages of the disease, when the need for more assistance becomes necessary. A&A is intended to help with the long-term care costs of adult day care, in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Based on an individual’s need and the progression of the disease, most of these additional services that support your loved one will become necessary. Annually, the A&A pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $27,609

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $32,729

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $17,743

3) Housebound – For veterans and surviving spouses who are permanently disabled and unable to leave their homes, making them require additional assistance. The definition of “home” can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home. The Housebound pension, like the A&A pension, is meant to help cover long-term care costs. Annually, the Housebound pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $20,226

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $25,348

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $13,568

 More information on VA Pensions’ eligibility criteria, payment rates and the application process is available here.


Veterans Homes

There are also two veterans’ homes in New Mexico, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. They are the Fort Bayard State Veterans Home in Santa Clara (southwestern NM near Silver City) and the New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences (north of Las Cruces). In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care are provided. Neighboring states also have veterans’ homes. Your loved one might consider looking there for more options as there are no requirements that one must live in the state. For example, Texas has nine veterans’ homes statewide. Additionally, Colorado has five facilities and Arizona has two. More info.


Other Options

1) Elder care loans exist for families to cover the costs of moving into memory care while waiting for other financial resources to become available. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home. More on bridge loans for memory care.

2) Tax credits and deductions like the Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if you can claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that can include assisted living costs.

3) A reverse mortgage can be an option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. However, if the spouse moves from their home, the reverse mortgage becomes due.