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Guide to Senior Living in New Mexico

According to the United States Census Bureau, 17.5% of New Mexicans were aged 65 or older in 2019. By 2030, more than 30% of the state’s population will be made up of adults who are 60 and older, according to population projections. Many seniors are attracted to New Mexico for its temperate climate, low cost of living and abundance of cultural activities. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year and relatively little rainfall, the Land of Enchantment is especially well-suited to older adults with chronic health conditions.

New Mexico’s low cost of living likely is the reason why senior care costs are close to the national average in all categories. For instance, assisted living in New Mexico costs an average of $4,100 per month compared to the national average of $4,051. This guide covers the cost of care and provides additional resources about the programs and agencies that may help make care more affordable for New Mexicans.

Covid-19 Rules and Restrictions for New Mexico Senior Living Facilities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from the New Mexico Department of Health website, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to nursing homes, assisted living, adult daycare, hospice facilities, rehabilitation facilities with older patients, and more.

This data has been most recently updated on 7/16/20, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?No
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?No
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?Yes
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?NA
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?NA
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?Yes
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes, for those who need help eating
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?No

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors 

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Safety Measures for Residents 

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?No
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Yes
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes

Paying for Senior Living in New Mexico

Assisted living facilities have many amenities that make them attractive to seniors in New Mexico, but other care options are available. Adult day care costs the least, but it’s not an option for everyone, and nursing homes offer comprehensive medical care day and night, but it comes at a high cost. Here are the average costs of senior care in the state:


Assisted Living


In-Home Care


Home Health Care


Adult Day Care


Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in New Mexico

As reported in Genworth Financial’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey, seniors in New Mexico can expect to pay an average of $4,100 per month for assisted living, which is slightly higher than the national average of $4,051 per month. Due to differences in the cost of living and demand for assisted living services, the cost of care varies greatly in nearby states. Colorado is the most expensive, while Utah has the lowest average costs.


New Mexico


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The Cost of In-Home Care in New Mexico

When it comes to the cost of in-home care, New Mexico is on par with the national average of $4,290. It has one of the most affordable care rates in the southwest, with only Texas boasting cheaper fees, at $3,956 monthly. The rest of the southwest also averages fairly consistent prices with New Mexico. Costs in bordering states Utah, Arizona and Colorado range from $286 to $667 more per month.


New Mexico


United States









The Cost of Nursing Home Care in New Mexico

New Mexico may seem like an inexpensive place to receive nursing home care, with its average monthly rate of $7,330 falling $183 below the national average. However, the care costs in the surrounding area shows that cheaper rates for care are possible in Utah, Arizona and Texas. Only Colorado holds a higher cost per month than New Mexico at $8,197,


New Mexico


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Financial Assistance for Senior Living in New Mexico

New Mexico Centennial Care

Centennial Care is New Mexico’s Medicaid program, which provides medical benefits to low-income residents. Under Centennial Care, senior living may be covered as part of the Agency-Based Community Benefit program. This program covers the expenses associated with receiving care at a Medicaid-approved senior living facility. If the facility isn’t Medicaid-approved, the services it provides aren’t covered by Centennial Care.

To qualify for Centennial Care, an applicant must be assessed as needing a nursing facility level of care and meet several requirements related to income, citizenship and residency. These requirements are determined at the federal level. Generally, an applicant must have a household income of no more than 100% of the federal poverty level to be eligible for Medicaid. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens or lawful residents and reside in the state in which they apply to receive benefits.

Contact: New Mexico seniors can apply for Centennial Care by calling 1-855-637-6574 or visiting the Yes New Mexico portal, which is a central application site for Centennial Care, cash assistance, food assistance (SNAP) and energy assistance. Seniors with general questions about Centennial Care can call 1-888-997-2583.

Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit

VA benefits typically don’t cover the monthly cost of senior living, although they may cover some of the services provided to veterans living in senior living facilities. The VA Aid and Attendance pension benefit, however, may provide additional funds that can be used to cover senior living expenses.

This benefit is available to veterans and surviving spouses who have limited eyesight, have to spend a large portion of their time in bed, need help with daily activities or live in a nursing home or other facility due to a disability. For eligible individuals, funds are provided in addition to the regular monthly pension benefit, making it easier to afford care at a senior living facility.

Contact: Seniors can apply for the VA Aid and Attendance pension benefit by visiting a regional Veterans Affairs office or filling out VA 21-2680, the Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance, and mailing it to a Pension Management Center. Applications are processed in the order they’re received.

Senior Living Laws and Regulations in New Mexico

Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.

In New Mexico, senior living facilities are regulated by the New Mexico Department of Health. Under DOH guidelines, every senior living facility in the state must meet minimum licensing requirements to ensure the health and welfare of its residents. No facility is permitted to operate without obtaining the required license. The New Mexico Department of Health conducts on-site inspections to determine that senior living facilities remain in compliance with all state requirements. These are some of the New Mexico senior living laws and regulations seniors and their families should know about.

Admission Requirements

When a new resident is admitted to an senior living facility in New Mexico, the facility must develop an admission agreement that explains the facility’s rules, the cost of services provided by the facility, what payment method will be used to cover these costs and information on advance directives. The information must also include the facility’s refund policy, a written authorization for staff members to help with medication management and a list of the resident’s rights. Facilities aren’t permitted to admit anyone under the age of 18. It’s also against the law to admit a resident whose needs can’t be met by the facility.

Staffing Requirements

The New Mexico Department of Health requires all direct-care staff to be at least 17 years old and have adequate education or training to meet the needs of residents. Applicants for direct-care positions must undergo a criminal background check, and a check to determine if they’re listed on the state’s Employee Abuse Registry. For facilities that provide transportation services, any employee who drives a vehicle with residents in it must have a valid New Mexico driver’s license, proof of insurance, a clean driving record and documentation of training in operating a vehicle safely.

Training Requirements

Every employee or volunteer who provides direct care to residents of an senior living facility must receive at least 16 hours of supervised training before they’re permitted to carry out their duties unsupervised.

The initial orientation and training program must cover first aid, fire safety, evacuation procedures, infection control, safe food handling and other topics related to respecting resident rights and ensuring the health and well-being of all residents. Employees must receive an additional 12 hours of training on these topics every year.

Memory Care

In facilities with memory care units, administrators and staff are required to coordinate resident care with outside agencies and service providers. The memory care facility must also be a secure environment, with gates connected to a fire-suppression system, double alarm systems and tab systems for residents who are likely to wander or elope from the premises.

Medication Management Regulations

Any facility with two or more residents that safeguards medications or provides assistance with medication management must have a valid custodial drug permit. A consulting pharmacist must review the medication regimen at least once every three months and report any irregularities to the facility’s administrator within 72 hours. All medications must be kept in a locked room or compartment and labeled with the resident’s name. Senior living facilities may not require residents to purchase their medications from a specific pharmacy, and residents must be permitted to keep their medications in their own rooms if a doctor determines it’s safe and appropriate to do so.

Abuse and Neglect Reporting

Any suspicion of abuse, neglect or exploitation must be reported to state authorities within 24 hours of the incident. If the incident occurs on a holiday or weekend, it must be reported by the next business day. Senior living facilities must also investigate complaints of abuse and neglect within five business days and submit a copy of the investigation report to the New Mexico Department of Health. The report must describe the incident, document the result of the facility’s investigation and contain a plan for any further action that will be taken in response to the incident.

New Mexico Senior Living Free Resources

New Mexico Agencies

New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Department

The New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Department coordinates a variety of services, including the Care Transition program, which is for residents living in nursing facilities who want to transition back to community environments, such as senior living. Staff members help seniors identify community resources that can help them remain independent, such as low-cost cell phones, utility assistance programs and low-income housing.

Eligibility for services depends on whether the individual qualifies for Medicaid, VA benefits or assistance provided by other government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

Contact: Call (505) 476-4799 with general questions or 1-800-432-2080 to find out about programs and services that may be covered by Medicaid or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Aging and Disability Resource Center

The Aging and Disability Resource Center offers a variety of resources to ensure that seniors can live independently for as long as possible. ADRC staff members are on hand to discuss long-term care options, answer questions about government benefit programs and available health care options.

The agency employs information and assistance (I&A) coordinators who understand the programs available to help New Mexico seniors and can walk older adults through the process of determining if they might be eligible or filling out an application.

Contact: Call 1-800-432-2080 to reach an I&A coordinator at the Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Area Agencies on Aging in New Mexico

Area Agencies on Aging provide a variety of services to seniors living in New Mexico. The state has four regional offices to ensure that seniors throughout New Mexico have access to local services, such as transportation, caregiver support, home-delivered meals, legal aid and case management. Area Agencies on Aging operate as either public agencies or private, nonprofit organizations.

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
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 Offices in New Mexico

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits to veterans of the Armed Forces and their surviving spouses. Many of the benefits relate to medical care, but some VA benefits can also be used to pay for senior living. For example, the VA Aid and Attendance benefit provides an additional monthly amount to veterans or their surviving spouses who are considered housebound or in need of ongoing care.

Albuquerque Vet Center2001 Mountain Road NW.
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Farmington Vet Center4251 E. Main Suite A
Farmington, NM 87402
Las Cruces Vet Center1120 Commerce Street, Suite B
Las Cruces, NM 88001
Sante Fe Vet Center2209 Brothers Road Suite 110
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Social Security Offices in New Mexico

The Social Security Administration is a federal agency that maintains several offices in New Mexico. Through the SSA, eligible seniors receive monthly payments that can be used to cover living expenses. For seniors in senior living, the money can be used to pay for rent, medical services or off-site activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does assisted living cost in New Mexico?

On average, it costs $4,100 per month for assisted living services in New Mexico. However, the actual cost depends on the location of the facility. Seniors in Farmington, Las Cruces and Santa Fe can expect to pay more than those in Albuquerque, for example.

Does New Mexico Medicaid pay for assisted living?

New Mexico Medicaid pays for assisted living in some circumstances. Seniors in the Agency-Based Community Benefit program, which is overseen by Centennial Care, may qualify to have their assisted living services covered if they live in facilities that have been approved by Medicaid. Seniors who live in nonapproved facilities who want to have their services covered by Centennial Care must move to an approved facility.

What types of care are provided by assisted living facilities?

Assisted living facilities provide a variety of services intended to ensure the health and well-being of residents. These services include transportation, health care services, assistance with daily activities, housekeeping, transportation and laundry services. Assisted living facilities may also offer entertainment and wellness programs to keep seniors engaged.

What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?

One of the main differences between assisted living and a nursing home is that an assisted living facility usually has a homelike atmosphere. Residents may be able to bring their own furniture from home or arrange their rooms according to their preferences. The services provided by an assisted living facility are usually personal in nature, such as help getting dressed or transportation to off-site medical appointments. In contrast, nursing homes typically have a clinical setting that looks more like a hospital than a home. The staff provides medical care in addition to personal services.

What types of amenities are commonly in assisted living facilities?

Some of the most common amenities available in assisted living facilities include barber and beautician services, computer access, game rooms and a variety of entertainment options. Some facilities plan outings to local venues to keep residents active. Seniors can also expect most facilities to offer housekeeping services, laundry services and assistance keeping track of medications.

The Top Cities for Senior Living in New Mexico

Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top New Mexico cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.

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