Assisted living communities in New Mexico generally must provide room and board with assistance for activities of daily living (ADLs) and intermittent nursing care. For an assisted living community to serve residents with dementia in what’s commonly called “memory care,” the following criteria must be met:
– Added security in case of wandering
– Enhanced programming appropriate for residents with dementia
– Enhanced training for staff
Memory care homes must be inspected and approved by the state’s Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement.
The average cost of assisted living with memory care per month in New Mexico in 2020 is $5,384, which breaks down to about $135 per day and $64,608 annually. New Mexico assisted living homes are not required by regulations to provide a written statement of all costs including optional services (unlike most states). If you’re considering memory care, ask for a breakdown of all charges, and file this document as defense against unexpected charges. Assisted living, without the additional services required for memory care, costs New Mexico residents about $4,115 per month and $49,380 annually.
The state’s most expensive city for memory care is Farmington, where the average cost is $6,023 per month and $72,276 annually. The least expensive place for memory care is outside New Mexico’s biggest cities; in rural areas, the average cost is $4,906 per month and $58,872 annually. Unfortunately, as ones enters the rural areas of NM, the assisted living and specifically, the memory care options become fewer.
A resident evaluation is required within 15 days of moving into assisted living in New Mexico, to determine the level of care and assistance needed and whether the new home is a good fit. The evaluation establishes a baseline of the person’s functional status, it must be updated at least every six months and must include the following:
– Cognitive abilities
– Communication/hearing ability
– Physical abilities and skeletal problems
– Psychological well-being
– Mood and behavior
– Activity interest
– Medical history
– Nutritional status
– Dental status
– Skin conditions
– Medications used
– Level of assistance with ADLs required
– Special medical needs
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
Resident units (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 assisted living homes. 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 wander.
There is no staffing ratio in New Mexico, but there must always be enough employees on duty to meet the needs of every resident. One person must be awake and on duty throughout the night.
Memory care staffers must have 12 hours of specifically dementia-related training per year. This is in addition to the training required for all assisted-living employees, including:
– 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.
Assisted living costs are among the benefits of the Community Benefits program under New Mexico’s Medicaid program (called “New Mexico Centennial”). Participants’ options are Agency-Based Community Benefit (ABCB), in which the state chooses care providers, and Self-Directed Community Benefit (SDCB) care, where the participant chooses. Costs associated with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are covered, in addition to behavior therapy, community transition services to move from a nursing home into assisted living, and nutritional counseling. Recipients must be Medicaid-eligible, including a monthly income limit under $2,349 for a single adult (in 2020). Take a quick, easy and free Medicaid eligibility test here.
Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Relevant in all states including New Mexico is the VA’s Aid & Attendance pension program for veterans and surviving spouses, which is an amount of money added to veterans’ and survivors’ basic pensions. Applicants must be at least 65 years old (or disabled) and require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like eating, bathing, and mobility. The cash assistance from these pensions can be used as the recipient wishes, meaning it can go toward the cost of memory care. In addition, the cost of residential care can be deducted from one’s income, effectively reducing the amount of calculable income used to determine the benefit amount. The latest (2020) maximum amount a veteran can receive through A&A is $27,194 per year, and surviving spouses can receive as much as $14,761. Learn more here.
There are also veterans homes in New Mexico, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care may be provided. Payment is made directly from the VA to the facility. State veterans homes are typically reserved for veterans whose need for care stems at least 70 percent from their military service. Because there is often a waiting list, contact a home before visiting to see if your loved one is eligible to live there.
Other ways to help pay for memory care include 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 may include some assisted living costs.
A reverse mortgage may be a good option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. Should the spouse move from their home, the reverse mortgage would become due.
Elder care loans are for families to cover initial costs of moving into memory care, if you need a little help at first but can afford costs after the initial payments. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home.