New Mexico’s favorable climate, characterized by sunny days and low levels of rainfall, make the state a prime choice for a location in which to retire. As a result, the largest growing sect of the state’s population is adults older than 65. New Mexico has an ever-growing elderly population, many of whom live on fixed, limited incomes and need advice in qualifying for and locating affordable housing.

Paying For Assisted Living in New Mexico

The Cost of Assisted Living in New Mexico

The monthly median cost of assisted living in New Mexico is $4,250, which is a bit above the national average of $4,000. According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living in New Mexico is more expensive than all of its neighboring states.

Costs are fairly similar across the different regions of the state. The average monthly cost in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe regions is the most expensive, while Farmington has the cheapest average. The cost discrepancy between more rural areas and larger cities is clear in New Mexico.

The state median cost of assisted living is in-line with most other types of long-term care available in the state. It’s considerably cheaper than nursing home care, in particular, and just a few dollars more expensive than in-home care:

Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in New Mexico

New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Care Services

New Mexico’s Aging Network and Senior Services program is the division of the state’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department that services elderly and disabled applicants. The program, which is part of Centennial Care, supports various forms of long-term care as well as home and community-based services – including care-related services for assisted living.

Who Is Eligible?

People must meet certain health and financial eligibility requirements in order to qualify for financial assistance for assisted living facilities. Eligibility guidelines can be broken down into a few categories:

  • Residency and Citizenship. Applicants have to be a New Mexico resident and a U.S. citizen or have proper immigration status.
  • Age/Disability. Applicants must be at least 65 years old, or blind, or disabled. They must require medical care consistent with nursing-home levels of care, and they must need care for at least 30 consecutive days.
  • Income. Monthly income limitations for a single applicant, including wages, Social Security benefits, pensions, veteran’s benefits, and IRAs, have to be less than $2,250.
  • Assets. In New Mexico, Medicaid divides assets into two categories: exempt and available. The value of exempt assets do not count toward your income, but available assets need to be liquidated and applied to the cost of care being receiving financial assistance for long-term care. Exempt assets include a home, one car, and a life insurance policy if the policy is worth less than $1,500 at face value. Available assets include second homes and other luxuries.

How to Apply

To get more details about eligibility requirements and start an application, contact the New Mexico Aging & Long Term Care Services Department by calling toll-free at 1-800-432-2080 or by visiting the website and choosing the “Live Chat” option to speak with someone in real time online.

More Ways to Finance Assisted Living

Some additional ways to finance assisted living costs include:

  • Veterans Benefits
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Reverse Mortgage

Free Assisted Living Resources in New Mexico

In New Mexico, there are nonprofit and government organizations that offer free assistance for the elderly and their families as they move through the process of planning long-term care. These organizations can play a critical role in helping you or your loved one understand the options and resources available.

Aging Network and Senior Services

New Mexico’s Aging Network and Senior Services program is the division of the state’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department that services elderly and disabled applicants. The program supports various forms of long-term care as well as home and community-based services – including care-related services for assisted living.

Aging & Disability Resource Center

New Mexico’s Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) provides assistance to seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers with finding services and resources to help them maintain a high quality of life. Specific services offered include:

  • Specialized ADRC coordinators to provide information and assistance
  • Benefits counseling
  • Healthcare options
  • Community information and education presentation
  • Prescription drug assistance
  • Health care fraud program
  • Long-term options counseling

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Like many states, New Mexico maintains a Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The Ombudsman in this state is tasked with:

  • Advocating for and educating communities, residents, and families on the rights of residence and issues of service and care
  • Investigating complaints by community residents and making sure their rights are being upheld and respected
  • Helping to resolve any concerns residents and families may have about their facilities
  • Ensuring that residents receive the quality of care they deserve

Area Agencies on Aging

Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) is a network of hundreds of nonprofit organizations across America that provide federally funded services to adults over 60 in their local areas.

New Mexico has several Area Agencies on Aging that offer comprehensive information on various kinds of programs and community supports for seniors over 60 years of age or 55 years of age for seniors in tribal programs. These services include:

  • Benefits counseling
  • Nutritional programs
  • Ombudsman program
  • Care coordination
  • Disease and injury prevention
  • Caregiver counseling
  • Transportation services
Area Agency on AgingAddressPhone Number
City of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Area Agency on AgingPO Box 1293
Albuquerque, NM 87103
(505) 768-2084
Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging3900 Paseo Del Sol
Santa Fe, NM 87507
1-866-699-4927
Navajo Area Agency on AgingPO Box 1390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
(928) 871-6868
Indian Area Agency on Aging625 Silver SW, Suite 414
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 383-3904

Veterans Affairs

As in most states, New Mexico has VA centers to assist both veterans and their spouses with financing options for various kinds of care. While the VA does not cover rent for seniors residing in assisted living facilities, the program may cover certain services you or your loved one may need in a residential setting. Representatives at one of these offices can provide guidance on your eligibility and direct you to the best support options for you.

VA OfficeAddressPhone Number
Albuquerque Vet Center2001 Mountain Road NW.
Albuquerque, NM 87104
505-346-6562
Farmington Vet Center4251 E. Main Suite A
Farmington, NM 87402
505-327-9684
Las Cruces Vet Center1120 Commerce Street, Suite B
Las Cruces, NM 88001
575-523-9826
Sante Fe Vet Center2209 Brothers Road Suite 110
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505-988-6562

Social Security Offices

The state of New Mexico’s Social Security offices offer another great resource for seniors looking for assistance. By contacting or visiting a Social Security office, you can get a better understanding of you or your loved one’s social security benefits and what types of assistance may be available to help pay for assisted living expenses. Below is a list of Social Security Offices in New Mexico.

Social Security OfficeAddressPhone Number
Albuquerque Social Security Offices500 Lead Ave SW.
Albuquerque, NM 87102
1-800-772-1213
Carlsbad Social Security Offices2302 W Pierce St.
Carlsbad, NM 88220
1-800-772-1213
Clovis Social Security Offices1208 Arcineiga Dr.
Clovis, NM 88101
1-866-931-9945
Farmington Social Security Offices4650 N Butler
Farmington, NM 87401
1-866-931-7656
Gallup Social Security Offices2070 East Aztec Avenue
Gallup, NM 87301
1-888-810-3744
Hobbs Social Security Offices501 E Bender Blvd
Hobbs, NM 88240
1-866-254-2611
Las Cruces Social Security Offices2141 Summit Court
Las Cruces, NM 88011
1-866-563-9294
Las Vegas Social Security Offices2520 Ridge Runner Rd.
Las Vegas, NM 87701
1-866-635-0856
Rio Rancho Social Security Offices4433 Jager Dr NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87144
1-800-772-1213
Roswell Social Security Offices500 N Richardson
Roswell, NM 88201
1-866-563-9470
Santa Fe Social Security Offices1922 5th Street
Santa Fe, NM 87505
1-866-571-8130

New Mexico Center for Assisted Living

The New Mexico Center for Assisted Living (NMCAL) is a trade organization for assisted living facilities. While NMCAL primarily serves its members, which are assisted living facilities, the center also aims to help seniors and their caregivers:

  • Assess care needs and options
  • Find the best service provider for you or your loved one’s needs
  • Make the transition to long term-care living
  • Learn more about paying for long-term care living

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in New Mexico

The Health Facility Licensing and Certification Bureau, which is housed in the Division of Health Improvement in New Mexico’s Department of Health, enforces comprehensive regulations for assisted living communities across the state. Facilities that provide a memory care unit have to meet additional requirement relating to care coordination; staffing, employee training, individualized service plans (ISPs), assessments and re-evaluations, documentation, security and resident rights.

These regulations cover the following topics, among many other things:

Assisted Living Service Plans

Assisted living facilities must provide create ISPs for prospective residents to ensure the facility is able to meet their needs. Facilities must also reassess current residents every six months, or following a significant change in health status, to ensure the facility can continue to meet their specific needs.

If residents choose to contract third parties to provide certain elements of their care, including hospice care, facilities must coordinate care with these third parties.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

Assisted living communities in New Mexico cannot accept or retain any resident that needs 24-hour continuous nursing care, including people who:

  • Are ventilator-dependent
  • Have Stage III or IV pressure sores
  • Have a condition that requires other chemical or physical restraints
  • Require intravenous therapy or injections

People who receive care from a licensed hospice agency or a privately-hired visiting nurse may be exempt from the above limitations because, in those case, facility staff are not required to provide that level of care to the resident. To qualify for this exemption the resident or their legally authorized representative, the facility, a physician, and the licensed provider all have to agree that such a program is appropriate.

For facilities that provide memory care, a pre-admission assessment must be conducted to evaluate whether less restrictive alternatives are available and to determine the reason for the admission to the secured environment. Acceptable reasons could include a physician diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

If the facility is unable to meet the needs of the resident, or if the resident is a danger to the safety or health of others residing in the facility, the facility has the right to discharge that resident.

Assisted Living Scope of Care

With respect to required services and scope of care, New Mexico regulations require assisted living facilities to supervise and/or assist residents as necessary with:

  • Medication administration or self-administration
  • Activities of daily living
  • Recreation and social activities
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Transportation services
  • Meals, including three nutritionally balanced meals and evening snacks in accordance with recommended daily dietary allowances

Assisted living facilities do not provide comprehensive nursing services at all hours of the day, so seniors that require more health care assistance may need to consider a skilled nursing facility as an alternative living arrangement.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

Medicaid does not cover assisted living services directly, but residents may find help with cost coverage through the state’s Medicaid program, which is called Centennial Care. Centennial Care includes a home and community-based waiver. This is because states recognize that nursing home care, which is covered by Medicaid, is much more expensive than assisted living facilities. The waiver is meant to incentivize people to opt for assisted living facilities over nursing home care when possible.

With respect to health requirements, seniors must require a nursing home level of care to qualify for the home and community-based waiver. A nursing home level of care generally means a person cannot care for themselves for a sustained period of time without assistance. Examples of needs that seniors may have to qualify them for the waiver include:

  • Requiring assistance with a catheter, IV drip or another medical device
  • Memory issues resulting from Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Inability to manage activities of daily living, such as dressing, toileting, and eating

To apply for Centennial Care, visit the YesNM Online Portal to create a profile and check eligibility.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

Although it is not required, assisted living communities in New Mexico may provide residences that are apartment-style or bedrooms which offer single or double occupancy. Resident units may be single or double occupancy and must, at minimum, provide one toilet, sink, and bathing unit for every eight residents.

The square footage minimum for a private resident unit is 100 square feet, while semi-private resident units must provide at least 80 square feet of floor space per resident, not counting the closet or a locker area.

Medication Provisions

Residents may self-administer their own medications if their physician approves. In the event that this is not approved, a resident can self-administer medications with assistance from someone who has completed a state-approved program in medication assistance. Medications may also be administered by a physician, physician extender, licensed nurse or relatives of the resident. In cases where a resident is prescribed psychotropic medications, physician consultation is required.

Assisted living facility staff who assist with medication self-administration are responsible for being aware of potential interactions or side effects that may occur. The facilities may also have a consulting pharmacist on staff who reviews medication lists at least quarterly to make sure all medication records and orders for residents are accurate and current. The consulting pharmacist is also responsible for ensuring the facility meets the storage, labeling, destruction, and documentation requirements of New Mexico’s State Board of Pharmacy.

Staffing Requirements

Regulations are in place to ensure assisted living facilities are properly staffed with people who qualified to provide the comprehensive care your or your loved one deserve. In New Mexico, the facilities must employ:

  • An administrator who is responsible for daily operations
  • Direct care staff to provide personal care assistance and supervision
  • A licensed nurse of the facility provides medication administration
  • A licensed nurse or physician extender to review health evaluations and individual service plans (ISP)

State regulations mandate that the minimum staff-to-resident ratio is one direct care worker for 15 or fewer residents, one direct care worker and one staff person for 16-60 residents, and at least three direct care workers and one staff person for 120 or more residents

Staff Training Requirements

Direct care staff employed by assisted living facilities in New Mexico must complete 16 hours of supervised training prior to providing unsupervised care and 12 hours of annual training thereafter. Training components must include:

  • Fire safety
  • First-aid
  • Resident confidentiality
  • Residents’ rights
  • Reporting requirements for abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • Infection control
  • Transportation safety for assisting residents and operating vehicles to transport residents
  • Methods for providing quality resident care

In facilities offering hospice services, all staff are required to receive 6 hours of hospice training plus one hour for each hospice resident’s ISP.

Background Checks for Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities in New Mexico must meet the state’s criminal history screening requirements – including a background check within 20 days of hire as well as a check of the employee abuse registry. The background check includes submitting fingerprints for a check against the Federal Registry.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

If you receive home-and-community based waiver benefits for assisted living and experience an incident, review the instructions on this website, file an online complaint form and report the incident immediately through the 24/7 toll-free Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Reporting Hotline at 1-800-445-6242.