Memory Care in New Mexico
New Mexico is home to more than 380,000 seniors, and adults aged 60 and older are expected to represent 30% of the population by 2030. This growing population of older adults means that the number of Alzheimer’s cases is expected to rise more than 20%, from 43,000 in 2020 to 53,000 in 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Dementia is an increasing concern for the public and cognitive health professionals at facilities such as the Memory & Aging Center at the University of New Mexico Health System, which sponsors research and offers opportunities to participate in clinical trials. The state also has a number of assisted living facilities that offer memory care. The median cost for these services is $5,623 per month, which is comparable to the national average.
Memory care can either be offered on its own in a community designed especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or, more often, it’s provided as a service in a separate wing of an assisted living facility. Memory care programs are designed specifically 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 compares the cost of memory care and other long-term supports in New Mexico and across the Southwest. It also provides an overview of the state’s financial assistance programs and various community-based organizations that help families who have been affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Cost of Memory Care in New Mexico
Note: There are no authoritative studies on memory care costs across the nation, so adjusted assisted living prices from Genworth Financial’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey have been used in this guide. Since we know that memory care costs 20-30% more than basic assisted living, we increased these prices by 25%.
According to this formula, seniors in New Mexico can expect to pay $5,623 per month for memory care, which is almost on par with the national average. Other states in the Southwest may provide a more competitive value. Seniors in Arizona ($5,000) and Texas ($4,998) pay about $625 less on a monthly basis. On the other hand, average memory care rates in Colorado are $315 higher at $5,938 per month.
The United States
Memory care prices in New Mexico vary significantly depending on location. The highest average of $7,268 per month is paid in Santa Fe. Albuquerque is a moderately expensive city for memory care with a median cost of $5,938. Prices in Las Cruces are within $50 of the state median, at an average of $5,619 per month. Farmington is the most budget-friendly location with a median cost of $4,999, which is 10% lower than the state and national averages.
Memory care units in assisted living facilities are just one option for New Mexico families to consider. Seniors who need day-to-day assistance due to dementia pay about $1,000 less per month for homemaker and home health aide services which average $4,605 and $4,652 per month, respectively. Adult day health care programs cost about $1,993 per month, and they’re available in most cities. Traditional assisted living facilities charge an average of $4,498 per month; however, individuals with dementia may not be eligible for admission. Seniors who require a high level of skilled care pay about $7,604 for a semiprivate room in a nursing home or $8,365 for a private room.
Home Health Aide
Adult Day Health Care
Nursing Home (semiprivate)
Nursing Home (private)
Does Medicaid Cover Memory Care in New Mexico?
Note: For the purposes of this guide, when we say “Memory Care” we are referring to memory care provided in a “social setting,” such as an Assisted Living Facility. This is the most common way to receive Memory Care and is the best fit for all but the frailest seniors. Sometimes the actual service of memory care can be provided in a Nursing Home (“medical setting”), so the financial assistance options will be very different. To learn more about the financial assistance options available for memory care provided in a nursing home, read our guide to Nursing Home Care in New Mexico.
Individuals who require institutional care are entitled to a variety of long-term supports through the state’s Centennial Care Medicaid program. Applicants must meet medical and financial eligibility requirements to receive these services. With this expanded Medicaid program, benefits are administered by managed care organizations (MCOs) operated by private insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield. This system allows beneficiaries to access medical care, behavioral health services and long-term services and supports through a single entity.
Seniors who’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may qualify for Medicaid if they require a nursing home level of care. This typically means they must require help with at least two activities of daily living or at least one instrumental activity of daily living. Typically, applicants must be aged 65 or older or have a permanent disability due to Alzheimer’s or another health condition.
What Memory Care Services Are Covered by Medicaid in New Mexico?
New Mexico’s Medicaid State Plan covers a variety of Personal Care Option services that are provided in home- and community-based settings. The goal of these services is to prevent institutionalization and allow older adults to receive care in the least restrictive setting. Centennial Care pays for a variety of services provided in memory care facilities. However, beneficiaries are still responsible for the cost of room and board. Here are some of the services that the program covers:
- Help with daily activities
- In-home care
- Private-duty nursing
- Adult day health care
- Skilled therapy
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Meals and nutritional services
- Emergency alert systems
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Accessibility modifications
Other Long-Term Care Programs
Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
Adults aged 55 and older who require a nursing home level of support may be eligible for the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. PACE is an innovative alternative to Medicare and Medicaid that allows beneficiaries to receive medical care, long-term care and other supports through a single organization.
The program focuses on helping prevent institutionalization and serving seniors who want to remain in the community. However, it also covers care in licensed health care facilities, including hospitals, assisted living facilities, memory care units and nursing homes. Monthly premiums depend on whether you qualify for Medicare and Medicaid or have a private-pay agreement. However, in most cases, there are no out-of-pocket expenses.
PACE long-term care benefits are provided by the InnovAge PACE center in Albuquerque. Services are currently limited to communities in Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia counties. Call InnovAge PACE at (505) 916-1932 to see if you’re eligible.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in New Mexico
Medicaid home- and community- services, including benefits for assisted living, are available to seniors who require a nursing home level of care and have limited income and assets. Centennial Care long-term care benefits have higher income limits than regular Medicaid. Applicants can earn up to 300% of the federal benefit rate, which is $2,523 per month ($30,276 per year) for 2022. Assets are limited to $2,000 per applicant or $4,000 if both you and your spouse are applying for benefits. If only one spouse requires long-term care, the non-applicant can have up to $137,400 in assets. A primary home, a vehicle and certain personal belongings are excluded. Your spouse may be entitled to a monthly needs allowance that can help to reduce your income.
2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in New Mexico
(Only One Person Applying)
$2,000 for applicant
$137,400 for non-applicant
(Both People Applying)
To qualify for memory care or assisted living through Centennial Care, you must:
- Be a New Mexico resident
- Provide proof of citizenship or legal residency
- Require a nursing home level of care
- Be aged 65 or older or disabled
How To Apply for Medicaid in New Mexico
There are several ways to apply for Medicaid depending on your needs and preferences. The easiest way is by visiting the official application portal at YesNM. If you have questions about your application or if you would like to apply over the phone, call the Consolidated Customer Service Center at (800) 283-4465.
Paper applications are available to download on the website, or the agency can mail you a copy. Your completed application package can be mailed or faxed to the following address or submitted to your local Income Support Division field office if you’d rather apply in person.
Central ASPEN Scanning Area (CASA)
P.O. Box 830
Bernalillo, NM 87004
Fax: (855) 804-8960
Information You Will Need
The state’s Medicaid application asks for a variety of personal and financial information. Make sure you have the following items available.
- Home address
- Proof of in-state residency
- A government-issued ID
- Social Security number
- Proof of citizenship or immigration status
- Disability information
- Health insurance details
- Sources of income
- Bank balances and assets
- Information about monthly expenses
How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid
For questions about your application or benefits, contact the Department of Human Services using the information listed below. Managed care organizations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Presbyterian Health Plan and Western Sky can also answer questions about coverage and available services.
The Consolidated Customer Service Center handles applications for Medicaid Centennial Care and answers questions about a variety of other benefits available through the Department of Human Services.
(800) 432-6217 option 6
If your benefits have been reduced or your application was improperly denied, you may have a right to file an appeal. The first step is contacting the Office of Fair Hearings to request a hearing.
Varies by Provider
Centennial Care requires each managed care organization to provide a member ombudsman who can advise beneficiaries on policies and procedures and what they can do if they've been improperly denied services or have a problem with the care they received.
Does Medicare Cover Memory Care in New Mexico?
The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of memory care in New Mexico. As was mentioned above, this doesn’t apply to Memory Care received in a Nursing Home. Since it is the most common to receive memory care in a “social setting” (such as an assisted living facility), Medicare won’t be a viable financial assistance option for most seniors who need Memory Care. However, Medicare will still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.
For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for Memory Care in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in New Mexico.
Other Financial Assistance Options for Memory Care in New Mexico
Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Memory Care affordable.
How to Apply
How It Works
Aid and Attendance
Learn more and apply online at va.gov.
Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Memory Care.
Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov
If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Memory Care. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance
Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.
Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Memory Care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Memory Care will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.
Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in New Mexico
Seniors and families who’ve been affected by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia can find many helpful resources and programs through government agencies and nonprofits. Learn more about some of the services that are available statewide.
The New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department is a comprehensive resource for all types of age-related services ranging from general information to long-term care waivers and legal advice. It sponsors the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Center as well as four Area Agencies on Aging and the long-term care ombudsman program.
The Alzheimer’s Association is dedicated to advancing dementia care and providing helpful services to seniors and their families. The New Mexico chapter offers caregiver training, informative workshops, respite care reimbursement and information about local support groups. Personal care consultations and referrals are available through the association’s 24-hour hotline.
Based in Santa Fe, The Memory Care Alliance is a regional nonprofit focused on educating families and supporting individuals who've been affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. It hosts weekly and monthly support groups, memory cafes and workshops on topics such as long-term care planning and caregiving.
Founded in 2016, the Memory and Aging Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque provides some of the most comprehensive and innovative cognitive health services in the region. The center’s board-certified neurologists offer comprehensive assessments, detailed care plans and opportunities to participate in research and clinical trials.
The Social Security Administration has regional field offices in most major cities across the state. Staff members can help with Medicare enrollment and applications for Social Security retirement or disability benefits. SSI recipients may be eligible for additional payments to help with the cost of room and board at a memory care facility.
LREP is a free legal helpline that’s sponsored by the State Bar of New Mexico. Staff attorneys help seniors aged 55 and older with a variety of civil legal issues, such as housing, long-term care and government benefits. Experts can help with Medicaid applications and denials, estate planning and guardianship petitions for adults who are unable to make their own decisions.
COVID-19 Rules for Memory Care in New Mexico
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including nmhealth.org/long-term-care-guidelines. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/10/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.
Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?
Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?
Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?
Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?
Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?
Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?
Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?
Outings & Social Activities
Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?
Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?
Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?
Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?
Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?
COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents
Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?
Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?
Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?
Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?
Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?
Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?
Memory Care Laws and Regulations in New Mexico
The Health Facility Licensing and Certification Bureau of New Mexico Department of Health is responsible for regulating assisted living and memory care in the state. The specifics are contained in Title 7, Chapter 8, Part 2 of New Mexico Administrative Code.
Individuals must be assessed by trained staff and a determination made that memory care is the least restrictive mode of care. The individual must be formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by a physician. Facility staff must then develop a service plan tailored to the individual, including detailed breakdowns of services and expected costs, and this plan must be updated twice per year by a licensed nurse.
Scope of Memory Care
Assisted living facilities that offer memory care must inform residents of the services, activities, care and other relevant features available to those with cognitive issues. These facilities must not accept a resident that can’t be cared for safely for behavioral or medical reasons.
Facilities with fewer than 16 residents are required to have one caregiver on duty, while facilities with more than 12 residents are required to have four caregivers. Regulations also include a requirement that dementia care facilities employ a “sufficient number” of appropriately trained staff.
Medication Management and Administration
Facility residents can maintain and administer their own medication if cleared to do so by their physician. Most memory care residents need some assistance, and many rely on staff to administer their medication. In New Mexico, all staff members who assist with or administer medication must be trained and licensed to do so.
Centennial Care — the state Medicaid managed care program — covers the cost of care for residents in assisted living and memory care facilities. Residents may also be eligible for room and board coverage.
Abuse and Neglect Complaints
Mandatory reporting requirements for facility staff are outlined in Section 184.108.40.206. Staff must report all serious and unusual incidents that do or could cause harm to residents, including accidents, abuse and natural disasters. Residents and members of the public can call the Health Facility Complaints Hotline at 1-800-752-8649 or download a complaint form to be mailed or faxed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does memory care cost in New Mexico?
As of 2020, residents in New Mexico’s memory care facilities and units pay an average of $5,125 per month, which is just $61 more than average for the United States.
Does New Mexico Medicaid pay for memory care?
Yes, the state’s Centennial Care program covers memory care services provided in an assisted living facility for eligible Medicaid recipients. New Mexicans may also qualify for full or partial coverage of their room and board fees.
What is the difference between memory care and assisted living?
Assisted living residents are typically more active and independent, as opposed to those in memory care who have more complex cognitive and physical deficits. The facility design, number and type of staff employed, activities offered and other elements of care can be tailored to either group, or both.
What types of therapies are offered in memory care facilities?
Some of the most common offered for people with Alzheimer’s include art, music and pet therapies, as well as the more standard physical and occupational therapies.
What security features are present in memory care facilities?
The main security concern at such a facility is preventing residents from wandering off and becoming lost, which can be solved with specialized design techniques, surveillance and perimeter lockdowns.