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Continuous Care: Opening Up the Conversation

Thursday - 4/18/2013, 4:30am  ET

Age-related concerns
According to Pew Research, approximately 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 16 years. While 65 isn't necessarily old these days, questions about continuing care and assisted living seem to loom larger on the horizon than before.

Navigating through contracts, comparing the often nonrefundable hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars facility fees, and considering the financial effects of paying what often ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 per month or more for lifestyle and care costs in typical care facilities in the U.S. can be enough to create a superstorm of agitation and fear.

Even in the best situations there are compromises to be made. And if you are responsible for finding care for a loved one, you may discover yourself suffering from guilt over trying to make sure he or she gets the care they need while balancing that with what you can afford. Unless they have insurance that pays for long-term care or you have the solid wealth to cover these costs, this topic can be a dismal one.

Providing this level of attention for your spouse or family member in your own home also requires sacrifices and involves costs that you may not have considered. For instance, in the States, if you hire an independent contractor to help out, you could be held liable should they be injured while in your employ. Consequently, your pockets must be deep to cover this possibility, or a contract must be signed beforehand that designates which party is responsible for what. The complexity level can ratchet up quickly.

What can you do?
There are alternatives to the standard assisted-living options available, but few people know about them.

Recently I was doing some research on continuing care in Mexico, and I came upon a comparison of nursing homes and assisted living care in the Lakeside expat community of Chapala, Mexico. Here, the cost for these services ranges from US$1,000 to $2,000 per month, depending upon the room you choose, the facility's location, and the amount of care needed.

Now, before you dismiss moving to Mexico yourself or transporting a loved one there for their final years, take the time to read on.

As with any choice, there is no one-size-fits-all, and even this lower-cost option won't appeal to the majority of Americans and Canadians. Why? Because the concept of leaving one's homeland and what is familiar is just too big a leap. But for those whose finances dictate -- or for those who want a temperate climate, personalized care, a home-like atmosphere, and the possibility of having a pet -- these Mexican convalescent homes, nursing homes, and continuing care facilities offer what you wouldn't be able to afford up north.

Viable options
Take La Valentina Seniors Residence and Convalescent Home. Here, biotherapist and owner Martha Benavides provides all-natural organic meals, spa treatments, massage, medical supervision, activities, housekeeping, laundry services, and local transportation for US$1,600 to $2,000 monthly. There is a full-time nurse on site, and apartments come with a mini-fridge and microwave. A community dining room and kitchen are also available.

If you are moderately disabled or a bit more than forgetful, La Casa Azul, owned by gerontologist Dr. Roberto Martinez Ramos, offers 24-hour medical and nursing services. If you can't bear to part from your pet, you may bring him to live with you.

Alicia's Convalescent Complex (shown, left) has several levels of care. She tends to those who are ambulatory, offers "middle care" for those who need more assistance, and also has facilities for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, daily meals, cleaning service, a pool, and 24-hour attention are all offered depending on which home you choose. Some rooms have a private bath. Telephone, wireless Internet service, and local transportation are available.

All of these facilities are in the same price range, and if you would like to know more about them or others in this area of Mexico, visit our Care Facilities in Mexico page.

This decision is not one to take lightly, and it impacts you emotionally as well as financially. But just knowing that there are alternatives can ease the pressure. The changes that are required to one's routine and lifestyle are enough to go through without the added feelings of angst and fear over going broke.

About the authors
Success stories are regular features of The Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter service, where we share profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories we've come across is that of Akaisha and Billy Kaderli, who retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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This article was originally published as Continuous Care: Opening Up the Conversationon Fool.com

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