Memory Care in New Mexico |

Memory Care in New Mexico

Alzheimer’s disease is a growing concern in New Mexico. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 43,000 New Mexico residents aged 65 and over lived with this condition in 2020. By 2025, the estimated number of seniors living with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase by over 23% to 53,000 cases. In 2019, there were 568 Alzheimer’s-related deaths in the state, and 15% of individuals in hospice had a primary diagnosis of dementia. The CDC projects that within the next four decades, the national burden of Alzheimer’s will double.

Memory care facilities provide those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia with care that is tailored to their unique needs. Memory care can take place in its own facility, or as part of a designated wing of another residential care community. Staff members of memory care units or facilities undergo specialized training in caring for those with memory impairment, and the facilities often coordinate social activities and schedules specifically for the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This guide will cover the cost of memory care in New Mexico, financial assistance options for paying for memory care, free memory care resources in the state, and a directory of memory care facilities in New Mexico.

The Cost of Memory Care in New Mexico

Because of the specialized staff training and resources required to provide high-quality memory care, memory care typically costs more than other types of residential care. On average, memory care will cost 20-30% more than assisted living.

Memory care costs aren't tracked as comprehensively as those for assisted living or nursing home care, so we've added 25% to the cost of assisted living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey to calculate the cost of memory care in New Mexico and nearby states. 

Based on this calculation, memory care costs an average of $5,622 per month in New Mexico. This is on par with the national average of $5,625 but less than the average monthly cost of $5,938 in nearby Colorado and $6,563 in California. Arizona's cost is less at $5,000.

It should be noted that average costs for memory care vary depending on what part of the state you live in. For example, residents of the major urban center Albuquerque pay an average $5,938 monthly for memory care, whereas residents of the state capital Santa Fe, located to the north, pay the much higher rate of $7,268. In Las Cruces to the south, the monthly average is $5,619.

New Mexico Medicaid Programs for Memory Care

In New Mexico, memory care services are covered by Centennial Care, the state’s Medicaid 1115 waiver and managed care demonstration program. New Mexico’s Medicaid program offers multiple pathways towards Medicaid eligibility and covers a variety of services that are provided in home and community-based settings, including memory care facilities.

  • Who Is Eligible: Centennial Care is available to residents of the state of New Mexico. They must also be a U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident or legal alien, have a need for health care/insurance assistance and have a financial situation that would be characterized as low or very low income.
  • How To Apply: You can learn more about Medicaid and other available benefits by contacting the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Center at (800) 432-2080 or the Human Services Department at (800) 283-4465.

Centennial Care

New Mexico's Medicaid managed care program is called Centennial Care, and memory care services are delivered via the Community Benefit. This program provides long-term care services for seniors in residential settings. It has a self-directed care option in which participants can choose their own care providers. In some cases, this could include eligible family members. While the program doesn’t directly pay for assisted living with memory care, it covers some specialized services received in an assisted living setting, including adult day health care, respite care, personal care assistance, private duty nursing and personal emergency response systems.

  • Who Is Eligible: To be eligible for the Community Benefit, applicants must be qualified to receive services under Centennial Care. Generally speaking, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, national, legal alien or permanent resident, and they must be a permanent resident of New Mexico. As of 2020, the annual income limit is $30,276 for a single applicant and $60,552 for a two-person household.
  • How To Apply: Those who are interested in enrolling in the Community Benefit should apply online through the Centennial Care website or contact the state’s Human Services Department at (800) 283-4465. Alternatively, qualifying seniors may receive in-person assistance and submit an application at their nearest NM Human Services Department field office. There are a limited number of Community Benefit placements in New Mexico.

Medicaid Eligibility for Seniors in New Mexico 

Any income that an applicant receives is counted towards Medicaid’s income limit. This means income from any source, including employment wages, alimony payments, pension payments, Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security retirement benefits, IRA withdrawals and stock dividends.

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in New Mexico

family sizeannual income limitsasset limits
Single Person$30,276$2,000
Two-Person Household (Single Applicant)$30,276$2,000 for applicant $137,400 for non-applicant
Two-Person Household (Dual Applicants)$60,552$4,000

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Residency in the state of New Mexico
  • U.S. national, citizen, permanent resident or legal alien status
  • Need for health care/insurance assistance
  • Financial situation characterized as low income

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid in New Mexico

New Mexico has online and in-person tools available to help seniors who are applying for Medicaid. These include call centers, chat lines, in-person counseling and other resources.

New Mexico Human Services DepartmentOnlineThe state of New Mexico Human Services Department's online page for Centennial Care provides detailed information about the program, including resources about how to get personalized assistance.
New Mexico Medicaid PortalTo check on existing benefits, request help or ask questions about enrollment, New Mexico has a Medicaid portal with links and a live chat feature for seniors and their caregivers.
Paying For Senior Care855-481-6777This service offers free advice from a senior care expert about long-term care options, including memory care, Medicaid and financial assistance.
American Council on Aging Medicaid PlannersOnlineFor help navigating the complicated Medicaid application process in New Mexico, the ACA offers free planning tools and access to Medicaid specialists. Although the initial referral is free, most certified Medicaid planners charge for their services.

Can You Use Medicare To Pay for Memory Care in New Mexico?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not generally cover the cost of Memory Care. Most Memory Care Facilities are considered to be "social settings," so Medicare does not cover the cost incurred in these facilities. The only exception to that is if you are receiving memory care services in a Nursing Home. While this situation is much less common, Medicare would sometimes cover the cost, depending on a number of circumstances.

That being said, Medicare does still cover qualified doctor visits, medications, etc., as it would if you were still at home, but it will not cover the cost of care received at the Memory Care Facility.

More Ways To Pay for Memory Care in New Mexico

In addition to the state programs mentioned above, those looking for resources to finance memory care may consider:

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Depending on the policy details, long-term care insurance may be used to pay for memory care services. It's best to sign up for a policy early, as coverage will likely be denied if one already has long-term care needs. More information about the intricacies of long-term care insurance can be found at
  • Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow some homeowners to take out a loan as an advance from the eventual sale of their primary residence. This can be a good way to fund memory care in the short-term, but the loans will need to be paid back after the sale of the home. The most commonly used type of reverse mortgages for seniors is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, which is the only reverse mortgage insured by the federal government.
  • Veterans Benefits: The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several programs that veterans and their spouses may use to cover health care needs such as memory care. More information about these programs can be found on the VA website.
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Memory Care Laws and Regulations in New Mexico

Memory Care Regulation

In New Mexico, memory care is provided in assisted living facilities for adults. These facilities are licensed and regulated by the New Mexico Department of Health.

In addition to the standard requirements that are met by all assisted living facilities in the state, those that offer memory care services must meet additional conditions. These include requirements relating to care coordination, staffing, training individualized service plans, assessments and re-evaluations, documentation, security and resident rights.

Facility Scope of Care

Memory care facilities in New Mexico are required to provide supervision and assistance to residents as necessary with specified nursing services, including:

  • Medication administration or supervising self-administration
  • Activities of daily living
  • Recreational and social activities
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • Around-the-clock comprehensive nursing services are not provided.

Memory care facilities are required to provide three nutritionally balanced meals and evening snacks that are in keeping with recommended daily dietary guidelines.

Admissions Requirements

Prior to admitting a prospective resident with dementia, the assisted living facility must conduct a pre-admission assessment to determine whether the secured environment is needed or if a less restrictive alternative is appropriate. Memory care facilities in New Mexico can accommodate a wide range of residents, but there are some restrictions in place as well. This table outlines who may and may not be admitted or retained.

Residents Who May Be Admitted

Older adults and people who:

  • Have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • Have traumatic brain injuries
  • Have developmental or physical disabilities
  • Are receiving hospice care

Residents Who May NOT Be Admitted

Those who:

  • Require 24-hour continuous nursing care
  • Are ventilator dependent
  • Have Stage III or IV pressure sores
  • Require physical or chemical restraints
  • Require intravenous therapy or injections

Care Plan Requirements

Memory care facilities must provide individualized service plans for prospective residents prior to admission to ensure that the facility is equipped to meet their needs. The service plan must provide an outline of the services that will be provided, including when, how and by whom. Residents must be reassessed every six months or after a significant change in their health or abilities.

Residents may contract with third-party agencies, including hospice agencies. The memory care facility must coordinate care provided within the building by these third-party agencies.

Medication Management Requirements

Residents may self-administer their medication with the approval of their physician. If they don’t have physician approval, then they can self-administer medications with the assistance of a facility staff member who has successfully completed a state-approved program in medication administration assistance. Medications may only be administered by a relative of the resident, a physician, a physician extender or a licensed nurse.

Staff members who assist with medication self-administration are responsible for understanding the potential interactions and side effects that may occur with a given medication. Memory care facilities must have a consulting pharmacist on staff who reviews medication lists on a quarterly basis to ensure that records and orders are accurate. The pharmacist must also ensure that the facility is properly storing, labeling, documenting and disposing of medications in accordance with the requirements of the state’s Board of Pharmacy.

Facility Requirements

In New Mexico, apartment-style units in assisted living facilities, including those that offer memory care, are not required. Units may be single or double occupancy. Single occupancy units must be at least 100 square feet, and double occupancy units must have at least 80 square feet per resident, excluding storage space. At least one toilet, sink and bath or shower must be provided for every eight residents.

Memory care facilities must have a secured environment to prevent residents from wandering. This is described by the state as any locked area with fences or doors that restrict access through the use of alarms. Facilities must also have secured outdoor areas for residents to use throughout the year.

Staffing Requirements

New Mexico provides specific guidelines regarding staffing requirements and ratios to ensure that residents receive adequate care. All memory care facilities must have an administrator who is responsible for daily operations. They must also have a sufficient number of direct care staff who are specially trained to meet residents’ needs, and at least one staff member must be awake at all times. The facility must have a licensed nurse who provides medication administration and a licensed nurse or physician extender who reviews health evaluations and ISPs.

Direct care staff must complete 16 hours of supervised training before providing unsupervised care, along with 12 hours of training annually. This training includes fire safety, first aid, resident rights and confidentiality, reporting requirements for abuse, infection control and transportation safety. They must also have at least 12 hours of annual dementia-related training.

Medicaid Policy

In New Mexico, memory care services are covered by Centennial Care, the state’s Medicaid 1115 waiver managed care demonstration program.

Reporting Abuse

Family members, seniors and the general public have two avenues for reporting suspected or observed abuse, exploitation or neglect. They may call the toll-free Health Facility Complaints hotline at 1-800-752-8649. Alternatively, they may print a Health Facility Consumer Complaint Form and fax or mail it to the provided number or address.

Health facilities are required to report all incidents of abuse, neglect, exploitation, injuries of unknown origin or cases of death where abuse or neglect is suspected. Reports are to be made through the state’s Health Facility Reporting System.

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Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in New Mexico

There are a number of low-cost resources available to seniors and their families and caregivers who are navigating memory care options in New Mexico.

New Mexico’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)800-432-2080New Mexico's SHIP office provides senior residents with in-depth, one-on-one insurance counseling and assistance with Medicare.
New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department, Aging and Disabilities Resource Center800-432-2080The department's ADRC in Santa Fe offers a wide range of accessible resources for seniors and families, including training for dementia caregivers, programs for respite care and help accessing available benefits and planning for elder care.
Alzheimer’s Association, New Mexico Chapter505-266-4473This nonprofit chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is based in Albuquerque. The AA is a good source of information, training and professional referrals for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. One-on-one consultations and needs assessments are provided by knowledgeable staff.
Legal Resources for the Elderly Program800-876-6657This free LREP hotline offers New Mexico seniors legal advice about Medicaid and Social Security benefits as well as assistance with guardianship disputes and other issues.
UNM Memory and Aging Center505-272-3160The University of New Mexico’s Clinical Neuroscience Center has facilities and staff dedicated to helping seniors who are affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. They provide assessments and neurological examinations and offer therapies and referrals.

New Mexico COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care Facilities

Note: The following information was compiled and most recently updated on 2/10/2022. Since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, be sure to contact your Memory Care Facility or local Area Agency on Aging for the most up-to-date information.

Am I allowed to visit my loved one in person?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Is my loved one required to quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Am I required to wear a mask if I visit my loved one in person?Yes
Are visitors screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are residents allowed to leave the facility at-will?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave required to quarantine when they get back?No (Conditions Apply)
Are staff members and contractors checked for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors tested for COVID-19?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Do staff members have to regularly screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly check residents for elevated temperatures?Yes
Do staff members have to regularly test residents for COVID-19?Yes (Conditions Apply)
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