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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.

The Cost of Senior Living in New Mexico

Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living.

Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.

New Mexico residents have a wide range of options for senior care, from independent living to 24-hour supervision. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey for 2021, the average cost of senior care in New Mexico ranges from $2,924 per month for independent living to $7,604 for nursing home care. Independent living is for seniors who are self-sufficient and don’t want to bother about home repairs and maintenance. Assisted living, which costs an average of $4,498 per month in New Mexico, includes room, board and help with activities of daily living.

Memory care is for seniors who require specialized care due to a diagnosis of dementia or another neurological disorder resulting in memory loss. Since memory care residents need more one-on-one help, the average cost of care in New Mexico is $5,623 per month. Nursing homes offer 24/7 supervision and care from skilled nursing professionals, making it the most expensive option.


Assisted Living


Independent Living


Memory Care


Nursing Home Care (semiprivate room)

The Cost of Assisted Living in New Mexico

In New Mexico, seniors pay an average of $4,498 per month for assisted living, which is about the same as the national average of $4,500 per month. When compared to nearby states, New Mexico is at the higher end of the range for assisted living costs. Arizona, Texas and Utah are less expensive, with Arizona averaging $4,000 per month, Utah at $3,500 monthly and Texas median at $3,998. With average monthly costs of $4,750, Colorado is more expensive than New Mexico.


New Mexico


The United States









The Cost of Nursing Home Care in New Mexico

In New Mexico, the cost of nursing home care averages $7,604 per month, about $300 less than the national average of $7,908. When compared to other states in the region, only Colorado is more expensive than New Mexico, with the cost of nursing home care averaging $8,567 per month. Arizona, Utah and Texas are all more affordable, as their average monthly costs range respectively from $5,125 to $7,178.


New Mexico


The United States









Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in New Mexico?

Medicaid uses state and federal funds to ensure low-income residents have access to necessary health services. In addition to its traditional Medicaid program, New Mexico offers Medicaid coverage through Centennial Care. Although senior care can be costly, older New Mexicans may use Centennial Care to cover some or all of their expenses.

For seniors who require 24/7 care, New Mexico offers institutional Medicaid, which covers the cost of care in a nursing home. Seniors who don’t require such close supervision may want to use their Centennial Care benefits to pay for assisted living or memory care. Although Centennial Care doesn’t cover these services directly, the Community Benefit Program waiver allows eligible enrollees to use their Medicaid benefits to stay in one of these facilities.

Independent living communities are meant for seniors who don’t need health services or personal care. So, neither Centennial Care nor other Medicaid waiver programs in New Mexico cover the costs of transferring into an independent living facility.

  Medicaid Coverage Level Type of Medicaid Coverage Entitlement?*  
Assisted Living FullMedicaid Waivers No 
Independent Living None N/A N/A 
Memory Care FullMedicaid Waivers No 
Nursing Home Care Full Medicaid  Yes 

* Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list.

Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in New Mexico

New Mexico’s traditional Medicaid program doesn’t cover assisted living or memory care. Because nursing home care is the most expensive type of senior care, the state has a Medicaid waiver program that allows eligible enrollees to use their Centennial Care benefits to live in community settings rather than institutional ones. A waiver allows a state’s Medicaid program to offer specialized benefits to a group of enrollees.

Community Benefit Program

The Community Benefit Program is open to Centennial Care enrollees who require a nursing facility level of care. New Mexico classifies enrollees as low NF (nursing facility) and high NF. Someone classified as low NF needs consistent, ongoing help with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs). The functional limitations must result from a medical condition that’s managed by the enrollee’s physician.

An enrollee at the high NF level must meet the criteria for the low NF level and have two additional functional impairments that qualify as high NF requirements. These requirements include a need for daily respiratory therapy, rehabilitative therapy at least once per week and behaviors that put the senior’s safety in danger, such as wandering or self-injury.

Care coordinators help eligible enrollees determine which services are needed to meet their needs. Enrollees who choose to receive agency-based community benefits have access to assisted living or memory care provided in an assisted living facility, personal care, behavioral support and other services.

Seniors who already receive full-coverage Medicaid may be able to enroll in the Community Benefit Program right away, while others will have to wait until an allocation becomes available.

How to Apply

Seniors interested in using Centennial Care’s waiver program to cover the costs of assisted living and memory care should visit the YesNM portal, which connects New Mexico residents with Medicaid, food assistance and other public benefits. The New Mexico Human Services Department also offers assistance by telephone at (800) 283-4465.

Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in New Mexico

Institutional Medicaid covers nursing home care directly through Centennial Care, so there’s no need to qualify for a waiver program. This type of coverage is available to seniors who’ve been in a Medicaid-approved nursing home or other medical facility for at least 30 days and require institutional care as directed by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy.

Eligibility for Medicaid in New Mexico

Medicaid is a need-based program, so applicants must fall below certain income limits to apply. For single individuals, the monthly income limit is $2,523. Married couples have an income limit of $5,406 per month — $2,523 per spouse — if both spouses are applying for Institutional Medicaid. For married couples with only one spouse applying for coverage, the monthly limit is $2,523. Applicants must also meet asset limits to qualify. Single applicants have a limit of $2,000, while married applicants have a limit of $2,000 per person ($4,000). The non-applicant spouse may have up to $137,400 worth of countable assets.

2022 New Mexico Medicaid Income Limits

Income Limits*Asset Limits
Single Person$30,276$2,000
Two-Person Household(Only one applicant) $30,276 (applicant only)$2000 (applicant)$137,400 (spouse)
Two-Person Household(Two applicants) $60,552$4,000 ($2,000 per spouse)

* per year

To qualify for Institutional Medicaid, an applicant must live in New Mexico permanently. Applicants must also spend only one calendar month outside the United States; otherwise, they won’t be eligible for Institutional Medicaid for at least 30 days following their return. Institutional Medicaid is only available to seniors who meet the Social Security Administration definition of someone who is aged, blind or disabled.

Applying for Medicaid in New Mexico

Seniors who want to use Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care should visit the YesNM portal to fill out an online application. Help is also available through the New Mexico Department of Human Services at (800) 283-4465.

Before You Apply

Applicants should be prepared to provide documents related to their identity, residence, income and assets. The Department of Human Services may ask for copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards, state-issued identification cards and/or passports. Tax returns, pay stubs and Social Security statements may be used to verify an applicant’s income. Applicants should also gather bank statements, insurance policies and other documents that can determine if the value of their countable assets falls below the limit.

How to Get Help

Medicaid is a complex program, so it’s not unusual for applicants to need a little help understanding the eligibility requirements or gathering the documentation they need to support their applications. Several organizations in New Mexico provide this type of assistance.

 Contact What You Should Know
New Mexico Medicaid Portal Online The New Mexico Medicaid Portal has information and tools to help applicants and current Medicaid enrollees understand their options. One of the most helpful tools is the eligibility screener, which helps seniors determine if they qualify for benefits before taking the time to complete a full Medicaid application. Current enrollees can also request new Medicaid cards and access other services.
New Mexico Human Services Department(800) 283-4465The New Mexico Human Services Department operates a Consolidated Customer Service Center, which serves as a central point of contact for New Mexicans who need information on Medicaid and other public benefit programs. Customers can reach the service center by telephone or use the online chat tool for faster service. summarizes the New Mexico Medicaid program and other benefit programs designed to help New Mexicans.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in New Mexico?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.

When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.

Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.

Medicare CoverageMedicare Coverage DurationCoinsurance Requirement?
Assisted LivingNoneN/AN/A
Independent LivingNoneN/AN/A
Memory CareNoneN/AN/A
Nursing Home CareLimited100 Days Per Benefit PeriodYes – After 20 Days

What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • Skilled nursing services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiologist care
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Ambulance transportation

What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’t Covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.

Medicare Support & Resources in New Mexico

New Mexico seniors have several options for Medicare, including Part A and Part B, prescription plans and supplemental plans designed to cover some of the out-of-pocket costs that come with this type of health insurance. The resources below can help seniors understand each program and make wise decisions regarding coverage.

 Contact What You Should Know 
New Mexico State Health Insurance Program(800) 432-2080The New Mexico Aging & Long-Term Services Department oversees New Mexico SHIP, which provides free information to help Medicare-eligible individuals understand how Medicare works and what coverage best suits their needs. Trained counselors are available to answer questions about enrolling and using Medicare to cover the cost of nursing home services and other Medicare-related topics.   (800) 633-4227 is the online hub for the Medicare program. Users have access to free information on Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage and supplemental plans that can reduce the out-of-pocket costs associated with certain health services. The website also helps seniors understand how much they can expect to pay for premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.
Office of Superintendent of Insurance(855) 427-5674New Mexico’s Office of Superintendent of Insurance handles complaints related to insurance companies operating in New Mexico. Medicare enrollees can contact the OSI office if they have concerns about Medicare fraud or want to report a problem with a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in New Mexico?

Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in New Mexico. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.

How to Get StartedWhat You Should Know
Aid and AttendanceApply online at you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.
Reverse MortgagesResearch and learn about the different types at you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.
Long-Term Care (LTC) InsuranceLearn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.

Free Senior Living Resources for Seniors in New Mexico

Seniors in the Land of Enchantment have access to several help resources to help them navigate the complexities of finding and paying for senior care. The organizations below are a good starting point for seniors who have questions or concerns.

ContactWhat You Should Know

New Mexico Long-Term Care Ombudsman(866) 451-2901The New Mexico Long-Term Care Ombudsman protects seniors by investigating complaints related to long-term care facilities. The organization also advocates for seniors and helps seniors and caregivers better understand their rights.
Area Agencies on Aging(505) 768-2084New Mexico has four Area Agencies on Aging dedicated to serving the needs of residents who are aged 60 and older. Services available include transportation, congregate meals, legal services and case management.
New Mexico Senior Services(800) 432-2080New Mexico Senior Services oversees multiple programs, including three of the four Area Agencies on Aging in New Mexico. The organization connects seniors with a wide variety of services, including transportation, healthy aging programs and employment programs.
Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs(505) 764-6400The City of Albuquerque operates the Department of Senior Affairs, which has a senior information line to ensure Bernalillo County seniors have access to accurate information on aging services. The Department of Senior Affairs also provides transportation and other services.
Santa Fe Senior Services(505) 955-4721Santa Fe Senior Services provides counseling, activity programs and support groups, among other assistance, to seniors living in the state capital and surrounding areas. Although some service restrictions were implemented to protect seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization continues to offer medical transportation and home-delivered meals.

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

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including and 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.

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes (Conditions Apply)
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?Yes
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?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No (Conditions Apply)
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes (Conditions Apply)

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 (Conditions Apply)
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 (Conditions Apply)

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.

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.

Learn More About Senior Living in New Mexico

For more information about specific types of senior living in New Mexico read our Guide to Assisted Living and Independent Living.

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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