BY: MexicoMike

Mexico is more than a place. It is a state of mind.
I remember one fellow from Boston who had an expensive motor home and was the most uptight man I ever met. He had his wife, children, and grandmother with him. He was so filled with apprehension and worry about his expensive motorhome that I told him he should just on a driving trip to Mexico, much less consider living in Mexico. .

He was taken aback. “I thought your job was to encourage people to drive to Mexico and consider retiring or living in Mexico.”

“No,” I replied, “My job is to help people to have a good time and find a better way of life, and you are so worried about your motorhome that you will not have a good time. Do us both a favor and stay home.”

He thought about it and said, “What if I leave the motor home here and just take the car?”

He did, and his two-week driving trip became a month-long journey of self-discovery. I saw him when he returned and he was completely relaxed and smiling. In fact, he and his family stayed an extra two weeks, and Grandma came back several years younger in spirit. Grandma danced in the square in Veracruz.

I have a place to stay if I ever get to Boston. That experience taught me that I should never judge whether someone will fit into Mexico, but I can make general assumptions about what might not work. Follow your heart, but take some of my suggestions to the same place.

You’ll enjoy living in Mexico if:
1. You have a spirit of adventure.

Even if you are going to live in Mexico City and work for a company, life will be an adventure. You can either have fun with it or be frustrated by it. The choice is always yours.

2. You can accept that most things are out of your control.

If you think everything has to be in its place and there must be a logical explanation for everything, then you are going to spend a lot of time being unhappy. Learn to “go with the flow.”

3. You are willing to accept things as they are.

There’s a wonderful little prayer that says, in part, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You may find yourself repeating this when little “Mexicanisms” get between you and getting things done.

4. You truly like people and can accept their differences.

Remember that you are never alone in Mexico. Even if—especially if—you live in a small town where there are no other gringos, you will meet many locals. They are a gregarious bunch with large families and a healthy curiosity about the bizarre ways of foreigners. Remember that many of the things we take for granted about ourselves are pretty darn amazing to outsiders. Old people and small kids will ask you questions as you travel about. Middle-class businessmen will go out of their way to help you when you need it. Strangers of all classes will show you things and help you find whatever it is you are looking for, be it a road out of town or a battery for your car alarm.

5. You have a sense of humor.

This is probably the most important ingredient in enjoying life in Mexico. If you do not take yourself too seriously, you will do much better than if you do. If you are a very serious or sad person and you have been sent to Mexico by your company, take heart, your whole personality could change for the better.

These are the main personality traits that will make your life in Mexico a easier. I’m not a psychologist, and there is absolutely nothing scientific about my list. It is based on my experience and what I have gathered from the thousands of people I have talked to and observed during my twenty or so years of writing about Mexico and talking to people who live in Mexico or think they want to live in Mexico. It is only to give you an honest assessment of some of the differences of living in Mexico versus living in the United States or Canada.



You thought so at your last high school reunion and it just might be true — some people age faster than others.

A new study finds that as early as age 38, some people are biologically much older. In fact, some look like they’re in their 60s, while others still look like 20-somethings.

And it’s not just on their medical tests. When college students were shown pictures of some of the volunteers in the study, they correctly picked out who was aging faster.

“Some of the people in our cohort had aged physiologically not at all between 26 and 38,” said Daniel Belsky of Duke University’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, who led the study.

“On the inside they looked the same — the 12 years of time hadn’t passed. At the other end of the extreme there were folks aging two to three times as much.”

For their study, Belsky and colleagues used data from 950 people who have been taking part in a lifelong medical study since they were born at a hospital in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972 and 1973. “They have been followed up at regular intervals ever since,” he said.

Belsky’s team came up with a batch of 18 measurements they believe correlate with aging. “We used medical measures of their lungs, their kidneys, their livers, their hearts, their immune system and even the integrity of their DNA,” he told NBC News.

“We took their blood pressure. We measured their height, their weight, their waist circumference.” The researchers tested lung function and put everyone on an exercise bike to test their fitness.

They also measured IQ and compared scores to childhood tests, and asked people if they had trouble walking up stairs or carrying groceries.

Some of the 38-year-olds looked average, some even looked like they had at age 26. But some looked a lot older on the tests.

“They have higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, higher levels of inflammation — their immune system is all charged up,” Belsky said. “They probably aren’t breathing quite as well. And they may be overweight and having metabolic problems.”


Their scores on the tests looked like people who are in their 50s and 60s, Belsky’s team reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We know that later in life [these scores] do change with age,” he said.

It doesn’t boil down quote to a five-point “Are you aging too fast” test, but most of the tests are done on routine physicals, or could be, Belsky says.

And people can ask themselves how they feel. “We had them complete a bunch of physical function tests,” he said. They included tests of balance, coordination, strength, climbing stairs, and so on. “The study members who appeared to be aging faster in their physiologies were also doing less well on the physical function,” Belsky said. “They are only 38 years old, but already there’s variation in their balance, in the coordination, in their strength.”

And the intelligence tests were telling, too. “We know that as we age, we get a little less sharp,” Belsky said. “We saw that already by age 38, study members whose physiologies were aging faster were showing signs of cognitive decline.”

Perhaps most stunning, the aging-related changes showed up in people’s faces. The team showed high-resolution photographs to college students at Duke, who had no idea what the study was about or even that all the photographs showed 38-year-olds. They were asked to guess how old each person was.

“These undergraduates guessed that the study members that were aging faster looked older,” Belsky said.

He’s calling it the 20th reunion effect. “If you ever want to be convinced that aging is occurring at different rates in young adults, go to your 20th high school reunion and look around,” he said.

What the researchers cannot say yet is whether the “fast” agers will die sooner, or if people can turn things around with lifestyle changes. They did not tell the individuals in the study how they scored, since they are not yet sure what it all means.

The team will continue to watch the New Zealand volunteers and will do another round of testing when they turn 45. And Belsky, who’s 35, says he may peek at some of his own measurements, too. Just in case.


BY: Rashelle Brown |  Nextavenue

You know that eating right and exercising regularly can reduce your risk for certain diseases and help you maintain a healthy weight.

But did you also know that those healthy habits can improve your overall quality of life?

A wide range of recent studies has found that a healthy diet and exercise contribute to improved physical function, better mood and even a reduction in the incidence of arthritic flare-ups and joint pain.

Lighten Up
The most common variable examined in the health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) studies was the impact of obesity on quality-of-life markers.

In a 2011 Australian study, researchers found that obesity adversely impacts both physical and mental health quality-of-life scores. Somewhat alarmingly, the study also showed that a low overall score was predictive of future weight gain, creating a circular, downward spiral for those caught in this cycle.

Fortunately, over the course of a five-year follow-up, the study found that those who lost weight improved their HRQoL scores, particularly among the mental health factors.

Weight can also have a significant impact on joint pain and osteoarthritis. It’s estimated that for every 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of weight gained, the risk of knee osteoarthritis increases 36 percent.

It’s estimated that for every 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of weight gained, the risk of osteoarthritis increases 36 percent.
A 2015 study of 99 overweight or obese nursing home employees found that body weight was directly correlated to a reduction in physical function and much higher frequencies of reported pain in both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing joints. Fortunately, even small amounts of weight loss have been shown to reduce inflammation and lessen symptoms of osteoarthritis.

It would seem the first order of business for improving quality of life, then, is to lose a little weight. The best ways to do that? Diet and exercise, of course!

Move More
A very encouraging study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that exercise improved physical function, mental health and even cognitive tasks, whether any weight loss occurred or not.

While it appears that any kind of activity can boost quality of life, a recent 12- month University of Illinois study found that aerobic activity, such as walking, fared slightly better than strength training when it came to making permanent positive changes to quality of life.

The participants in that study who made the biggest gains in HRQoL scores started out with just 10 minutes of easy walking three times a week, and slowly increased the duration of their walks to 40 minutes, and then gradually increased the pace, so that they were walking briskly for 40 minutes, three times a week, during the last half of the trial.

A review of recent scientific literature also confirmed that exercise is a very effective therapy for osteoarthritis. Importantly, the review found that a wide variety of exercise modes can have favorable results, but it is essential that an exercise routine be maintained over time. So even if arthritis prevents you from walking or doing resistance training, exercises like aqua aerobics, swimming and bicycling could still help improve your quality of life, if you do them regularly.

Eat Well
Studies examining the direct effects of diet on quality of life regardless of weight loss are lacking. But there is such a large body of research linking good nutrition to good overall health that the role of a healthy diet is indisputable.

Whether your goal is to manage your weight, boost your energy levels or reduce your risk for disease, the formula for success is eating a diet high in nutrient-dense whole foods and low in processed, fatty and sugary foods.

The 2012 Well-being, Eating and Exercise for a Long Life (WELL) Study found that the diet of adults between the ages of 55 and 65 was sorely lacking in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are a primary source of nutrients important for good health and the prevention of disease. A diet lacking in nutrients can also contribute to depression, according to a 2008 study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry.

If you think your diet could use an overhaul, there’s no need for a radical change. By simply incorporating more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and high-fiber whole grains, you’ll greatly boost the nutritional quality of your diet.

If weight loss is a goal, then you should pair this increase in servings of healthy foods with a decrease in servings of foods that are processed, overly fatty, fried or have a lot of added sugar.

Making even small changes to your diet can have a big impact on your mood, energy levels and quality of sleep, making it more likely that you’ll feel like keeping up a regular exercise program.

Forming healthy habits is less about looking at the big picture than it is about making small, positive changes consistently. From the moment that you first wake up each morning until your head hits the pillow at night, you spend the day making hundreds of small decisions about food and exercise that cumulatively have a big impact on your well being.

By paying closer attention to those decisions and making conscious choices, you can take control of your health and improve your quality of life.



Mexican border town are more similar to U.S. border towns than they are to Chiapas on the Guatemala border

Baja Cactus For as long as I have lived in Mexico I have been hell bent on understanding this country that remains to me, as I said in the book’s introduction, an “enigma wrapped in a mystery”. Moving to Baja California was a first step at understanding and assimilating into Mexico. Close to the border, Baja California has adopted much of Southern California’s culture. A frontier culture that mixes: language, styles of dress, music and a perspective that is influenced by both Mexican and U.S. values. Although influenced by cross border experiences, “Fronteriza” is a distinct culture, neither Mexican nor American. This synergy of influences is producing new and unique music, theatre, literature and art. I enjoy and can relate to this Fronteriza culture having been raised in a hybrid Hispanic, Philippine and Afro American neighborhood in Oakland California.

Baja California is culturally easy for U.S. folks, especially Southern Californians whose parents brought them here as children to fish, surf or just enjoy the “kick back” Baja, beach oriented lifestyle. However, to experience traditional Mexico and its cultural diversity you must travel the interior of the country. To really appreciate the mystery of Mexico, her spiritual magic and her three thousand year history, travel to Chiapas. It is on Mexico’s Southeast coast at the center of the region called Mundo Maya (Mayan World) which includes the surrounding Mexican states of Tabasco, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan. Mundo Maya also includes the surrounding nations of: Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador.

Chiapas is the most distant Mexican state from Baja California, located at the Mexico&Guatemala border. As an American you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage. I say pilgrimage because it is the cradle of our continent’s civilization and home to Northamerica’s last remaining rain forest, whose preservation is vital to the health of our Continent.

Baja California is one of the last places on earth where Abalone still survive off her Pacific Coast. The Sea of Cortez is the only inland sea that is surrounded by the territory of a single nation. It is home to a multitude of endangered sea life including the protected 300 pound Totuaba, considered by game fisherman to be the most precious and exciting of catches. Baja’s beauty is made up of mostly pristine: desert, mountains and beaches. Similarly, Chiapas is mostly pristine wilderness. It is home to 26 endangered species of animals. Her jungles and rain forest are populated by: Jaguar, Puma, Crocodile, Armadillo, Tucan, Parrot, Monkey, Wild Boar and White Tail Deer, to name just a few. Chiapas has the largest concentration of animal species in the world. A visit to the Tuxla (capital city) Zoo and Game Preserve is an incredible journey into a small slice of an exquisite Northamerican wilderness that contains 65% of Mexico’s birds, and 1200 species of butterflies. This preserve is an important legacy to all the citizens of this continent.

The Mexican government has invested heavily in museums and parks in Chiapas in order to maintain and beautifully present the well preserved Olmec and Mayan heritage. An American heritage that most U.S. citizens know little about. History courses in U.S. public schools reflect a Euro focus that I believe warps our self identity as Americans. Our education is replete with information on Greek and Roman civilizations that existed half way round the world. Yet hardly a mention is made in our nation’s schools about Canadian or Mexican ancestral history. What’s up with this? These countries are our Northamerican neighbors. We share, and are mutually responsible for, this piece of the planet.

I interviewed a U.S. archeologist who was in the Chiapas region on an expedition focused on the Olmec civilization, predecessors of the Mayans. The Florida State University archeologist explained to me that she completed a course on ancient Northamerican cultures in preparation for her work in Mayan country. She recounted to me the erroneous and ridiculous words of her U.S. trained professor that now obsessively echos in her mind: “The Olmecs were not so much a civilazation but more an artistic lifestyle”. This ignorance was espoused by a graduate studies professor about an incredibly advanced society that knew, before anyone else in recorded history, that the world was round and revolved around the sun.

PalenqueThe Olmecs and the Mayans had written languages. They were: astronomers, physicians, engineers, artists and architects who built elaborate cities. The graduate professor’s historically bankrupt conclusions are a sad commentary of how poorly our education system has failed us regarding American continental history. A trip to Palenque, Chiapas is mind blowing: ruins thousands of years old are remarkably preserved, including the plaster artwork that adorn the walls of 66 foot high pyramids and huge buildings that are spread out over miles of jungle and clearings. A hike through Palenque’s ruins is a combination ecological, archaelogical, ethnological and historic passage unlike any travel adventure I have experienced. One is transported back thousands of years in this pristine and uncompromised jungle. The abundance of flora is amazing with 1,000 species of plants identified in one square mile. Animals and humans are still living where time and progress have made little or no impact. Even Palenque’s ancient underground aqueducts still function today.

Both Baja Californa and Chiapas have indigenous populations in Mexico. The difference is that Baja California’s five tribes are almost extinct with only 1200 survivors. They are generally not visible to visitors, living in remote locations away from the major cities and tourist zones. Chiapas, by comparison, has 750,000 indigenous inhabitants, one third of the state’s total population, and they are visible everywhere you travel. The impressivly high quality museums of Chiapas beautifully display artifacts that depict the lifestyles of these ancient people: style of dress, language, superb art, agricultural methods, and ceremonial traditions.

Once outside the museums, on the streets of the pueblos and in the surrounding jungle, you see the same facial features in the descendants of the Mayan and Olmec cultures. They still speak and read Mayan dialects, wear the same traditional clothing, create the same wonderful art and handcrafts and practice the same farming science of their ancestors . The whole state of Chiapas is a living, breathing museum of ancient cultures.

Ceremonial and religious customs are still very Mayan but mixed with Catholicism. The Chamula tribe, for example , allows only the Catholic sacrament of Baptism. From then on the priests and bishops are not allowed, not even to perform mass. The Chamula religious and ceremonial traditions are very Mayan with just a hint of Catholicism. To visit their church, any time of the day – everyday, is as exotic an experience as witnessing a voodoo ceremony.

Chiapas, sumidero canionChiapas is an incredibly beautiful region: huge waterfalls, raging rivers, heavily forested mountains, pristine beaches, 15th century colonial towns, modern cities, living ethnology, handcrafts, heritage, art, music, dance, folklore, wonderful and exotic foods and beverages, animal and plant life and some of the worlds most important museums and archaeological sites. The economics of visiting there is another big plus with five star hotels at $50.00 and delicious regional dishes in the $5.00 range. Despite all of these extraordinary travel assets Northamerican tourists are profoundly scarce. This I find true in most of my travels through the colonial cities and remote regions of Mexico. Ironically, French, English and German travelers, armed with history books, are everywhere in Chiapas and the other “unknown to Gringos” locations in Mexico. Ninety percent of all U.S. tourists to Mexico visit: Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta where it is so Americanized they learn and experience almost nothing of what is truly Mexico.

As fellow custodians of this continent, all Americans owe it to themselves to visit Chiapas. To experience our last remaining rain forest, 15th century colonial towns that rival Europe, and the ancient civilzations of our forebearers. Despite political turmoil, that fills the world news, travelers are safer than they would be visiting a major U.S. city. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic I believe I am a changed person for having visited Chiapas – I have a clearer historical perspective, a renewed sense of environmental responsibility and a deeper appreciation of what it is to be an American.


When people in the provinces of this country, Baja California is especially provincial, say they are going to Mexico they mean the interior of the country. Going to Mexico means the center of the country’s power and it’s surrounding states: Guanajuato, Morelos, Puebla, and Jalisco.

As a Califoniano, Oakland and Ensenada, I ask myself why anyone would want to travel to Mexico City? You don’t know whether your cab driver is a real cabbie or a violent thief who will rob and possibly hurt or kill you. The air is unbreathable and the traffic unbearable.

A client of mine is a Daimler Benz owned Mexican company called Temic. My work with them requires me to fly to Mexico City once a month. Luckily, it is not necessary for me to use cabs. My client provides a chauffeur who receives me on each visit and returns me to the airport on departure in Mexico City.

My work takes me to their plant, located an hour and one half from the Mexico City Airport, in the state of Morelos. The plant is located in a beautiful agricultural area in the municipality of Cuatla; a half hour south of Cuernavaca.

The state of Morelos, finds itself in a political mess as I write this. The governor just resigned and there is still talk of indicting him for corruption and other criminal activities. The last straw for Morelos citizenry was the discovery that the “elite” kidnapping investigating unit (hand picked by the gov) was responsible for a number of kidnappings. Morelos leads the nation in kidnappings with 360 last year. The cop/kidnappers were caught disposing the body of one of their kidnapping victims of Morelos.

I visited Cuernavaca , the capital of Morelos, for the first time in 1977 and it was a beautiful pueblo (little town) with jungle like hillsides: full of flowers, butterflies and the scent of lush flora. Today it is a grimy city with traffic problems caused by too many cars on narrow cobble stoned streets. Streets not designed for the magnitudes that fill this pueblo turned city.

Please don’t get me wrong I like going to Morelos, but I’m so glad I live in Ensenada. One very important reason I like going to Morelos is the chorizo. The crap that we call chorizo here in Baja Califonia and most of California is not what I grew up on. In Morelos my grandmother’s chorizo and morsilla (blood sausage) is in abundant supply. Chorizo, by my criteria, should not fall apart when you fry it up. True chorizo remains an in tact sausage that you cut with a knife and fork; seeing and smelling those fine, spicy juices explode as you cut into that plump motha. DAMN! Makes me hungry thinkin about it.

Morelos is culturally more traditional Mexico when compared to Baja California. Food preparation in Baja California, for example, is not high quality Mexican Cuisine. In the state of Morelos, Mexican cooking is an art form. The variety of dishes and sauces is vast, exotic and prepared with exceptional pride and caring. Holidays, fiestas and religious practices are more tradition bound and integrated into community life in “Mexico” as opposed to Baja California. Morelos is an interesting change for me from Baja California so I do enjoy my visits. A great place to visit but.

The political and social climate in the state of Morelos is also quite distinct when compared to Baja California. In Morelos, for example, the unions are very strong and often create major problems for large employers. In Baja California the unions are a joke, neither employees nor employers pay much attention to them. Most maquiladoras (foreign owned assembly operations) are non union shops in Baja California. Tijuana leads the nation in the number of maquiladoras; twelve hundred of the nations 2,000 maquiladoras are in Tijuana Baja California.

Union bosses, close proximity to Mexico City style corruption and a traditional acceptance of a government that does not represent the people’s interests has created modern day Cuernava. Once the Mecca for Mexico’s great artists it is now a bustling, “dog eat dog” city, bursting at the seams and hell bent on repeating the awful disaster that is Mexico City.

Cuernavaca and the rest of Morelos is still a popular weekend getaway for stressed out Chilangos (Mexico City residents). Only an hour away , via a very modern toll road, Cuernava is at least a little slower and less crowded than the Districto Federal.

Lots of tradition and great food has Morelos. No surf, sand, desert, wide open spaces, clean air or that layed back Baja California feeling. Baja California must also be lauded for a state government that works hard to protect the interests and rights of its citizens. Where abuse of authority is the exception rather than the rule. Gracias a Dios, I do live in Baja.


By: Patricia Mertz | Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

1. It pays to retrofit. Basic design and structural modifications to a one-story home cost an average of $9,000 to $12,000, according to The MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0. Contrast that expense to the cost of assisted living, which averaged $3,500 per month in 2014, according to Genworth Financial, or $42,000 a year.

2. Think small. Start with replacement hardware, such as lever-handled doorknobs and sturdy handrails along stairs. Install grab bars, single-handled faucets and “comfort height” toilets in the bathrooms. Upgrade your kitchen by adding rollout shelves and better lighting under the cabinets. (For a comprehensive to-do list, see the Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist at

3. Make it accessible. Other modifications will cost more, and you may want to consult an expert. Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) — who have completed a program developed by the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP — can create a prioritized to-do list suited to your budget and resources (to search by zip code, visit the NAHB website at and search for “CAPS Directory”). If, for example, your home has entry steps, consider installing a ramp; it will run $1,200 to $2,500, according to A curbless modular shower will cost $2,000 to $3,000 to install.

4. Consider the big picture. Structural changes may include widening doorways and corridors and eliminating walls to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, or even creating space in a multistory home to add an elevator later. The perfect time to make such adjustments is when you’re updating or remodeling your home.

5. Tap your equity. If you have substantial equity in your home, you have multiple ways to pay for improvements, such as a cash-out refinance of your mortgage, a home-equity loan or line of credit, or a reverse mortgage. For more information on reverse mortgages, visit the websites of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (go to and search for “reverse mortgage”) and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association ( Veterans may be eligible for a grant to construct or retrofit their homes (see

6. R2-D2 to the rescue. Voice-activated robot helpers are on the way. Meanwhile, existing tech tools can help you stay in touch with family, caregivers and community, as well as monitor your health and provide for security, says Laurie Orlov, founder of the Aging in Place Technology Watch ( For example, the BeClose system (; $499 for equipment plus $99 a month) will alert your emergency contacts if you diverge from your usual activity pattern.


By: Claudia Deschamps | Fox News Latino

“If you can walk you can tango,” or so says the researcher behind a Houston-based study trying to prove that, even if they appear frail, seniors can benefit greatly with the synchronized – and touchy – Argentinian dance.

Martina Gallagher, assistant professor at the University of Texas’ Health Science Center School of Nursing and an avid tango student, says her interest in conducting this research was sparked when she visited a relative who lives in an assisted living facility.

“I went to see my aunt who is elderly and has Alzheimer’s disease and noticed that her body position was one of hugging herself,” said Gallagher to Fox News Latino. “In tango there is a move, a way you dance and we call it the embrace. Tango is basically dancing in a hug,” she added.

Love is tango and tango is love! Yes, it is a dance, yet so much more then just any dance. It is an ongoing conversation between two souls, two hearts and two bodies. It is a sacred dance we enter in with one another, where both ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ feel fully expressed and honored.
– Ilona Glinarsky, Tango instructor and life coach

“What this research intends to prove is that tango is a feasible way of engaging seniors in a physical activity in an enjoyable way, and that they can do it for a lifetime,” she added.

The combination of physical contact, motion and balance that occurs while dancing tango was precisely what prompted Gallagher to propose the research to her colleague Dr. Sabrina Pickens.

For Pickens, who specializes in geriatric research, it is apparent that the implementation of this type of dance could bring not just physical but also emotional benefits to the elderly.

“With tango, I believe it can improve their balance and their range of motion,” she said. “As far as cognition, I believe it can improve if they have depression, release some of those symptoms and improve their own quality of life.”

Could the physical proximity tango is known for, be too intimidating for the elderly? “Not at all,” says Pickens. “Studies have shown that older adults in assisted living facilities welcome physical touch. That’s in part because their immediate family usually lives far away and the physical touch they are exposed to is limited.”

For now, Gallagher and Pickens are focused on securing the funds to conduct the study — they are planning to submit grants proposal to various organizations by the end of this year. In the meantime, they are conducting assessments with seniors and staff in assisted living facilities while engaging their nursing students.

“What tango has done for me is that I have learned a lot about the role of following a leader and the role of the follower. The role of the follower is actually very important,” said Gallagher, who estimates the study will take approximately six months.

“We hope that based on our preliminary studies we can implement tango lessons throughout the United States and different assisted living facilities and perhaps even nursing homes,” she said.




GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, Americans have long crossed the border with Mexico in search of cheaper medical procedures, dental work and prescription drugs. Now a new trend is afoot: finding a place to live out retirement years.

Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has the story, part of our occasional series about long-term care.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: David Truly, known as the Barefoot Professor, plays in a local band near Lake Chapala in Central Mexico. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the migration of retirees to this area.

DAVID TRULY, Autonomous University of Guadalajara: Kind of a range between maybe 8,000 to about 15,000, 16,000 full-timers, and then — but, in the winter, it can blow up in just this community to maybe 30,000.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Mexico’s largest lake is surrounded by emerald green mountains. The village of Ajijic draws artists and writers. Cobblestone streets are dotted with galleries and restaurants serving international cuisines.

No Spanish? No problem. With Hawaii’s latitude and Denver’s altitude, the temperate climate has attracted retirees for decades. Mexicans have traditionally taken elderly relatives into their own homes. So, the demand for assisted living and nursing care wasn’t high, until foreigners, many of them Americans, flocked here. Now they are getting older and they need more care.

DAVID TRULY: People are not just aging here, but for the first time, they’re staying here and they’re not returning home. So they’re aging and dying in place here.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: When 81-year-old John Simmons’ doctor told him he shouldn’t live alone, he came here to Abbeyfield, an independent senior living facility. His one bedroom casita sits in a lush garden near a lap pool and a covered patio.

JOHN SIMMONS, Retiree: I love the light. I love the cross-ventilation. I like the kitchen tucked away. And so it gives me room for an office and, of course, the views out the windows with all the wonderful plants. The landscaping here, I think, is fantastic.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The average cost for independent living in the U.S. is about $2,500 a month.

JOHN SIMMONS: The rent, including all utilities, connections for Internet, television, all of those things, plus three meals a day, just a little over $1,000 a month.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: One reason for the cost difference, labor is cheaper here. The minimum wage is just 70 pesos, or less than $5 a day. For those who need a bit more care, there’s been a boom in assisted living and nursing homes.

Seventy-two-year-old Rosemary Grayson came here from Wales. She made headlines 50 years ago as the first “Playboy” centerfold from the United Kingdom and later went on to be a journalist.

ROSEMARY GRAYSON, Retiree: I was burnt out. I was in a state of near nervous breakdown. Lakeside Care put me together again.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Ron Langley is a Floridian whose Mexican wife has a degree in geriatric care. Together, they run Lakeside Care. He’s proud of the food he serves and the caregivers he employs.

RON LANGLEY, Lakeside Care: They have a great respect for the elderly. And they will go out of their way to help an elderly person.

ROSEMARY GRAYSON: The people here have compassion written into their DNA. They do it before they know it. The caring is just like of being in an extended family.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Assisted care like this in the United States averages about $3,800 a month. And nursing homes can cost upwards of $7,000. Langley charges between $1,400 and $2,000 a month for meals, cleaning, laundry and more.

RON LANGLEY: The only other thing that a patient or a resident here would pay for would be their medicines and their doctors.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: And that raises a potential concern: Does the area have top-notch health care? A new hospital just opened on the lake. Though Medicare benefits don’t apply in Mexico, doctor’s visits and prescriptions are often less than co-pays back home. And Mexico’s second largest city is just an hour away.

DAVID TRULY: We are very close to Guadalajara, which can really be considered kind of a medical hub of Latin America, some of the finest medical colleges in — there’s like three universities there.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The Lake Chapala area is beginning to draw younger retirees, and some are bringing mom or dad along; 64-year-old Mark Woolley and his wife, Ann, bought a house here a year-and-a-half ago.

When his 86-year-old mother, Kempie McKenna, came for visit, she liked what she saw and chose a room at Abbeyfield.

WOMAN: The second time I came, I came with suitcases. It’s so relaxing here, with the sun coming in. The birds are up there. The flowers are blooming. It’s just lovely. And we’re just sitting and chatting.

MARK WOOLLEY, Retiree: She always considered it more like old-age storage, you know, a lot of the homes in the United States, and they weren’t very nice. And these were literally homes here that people live in and retire in, and with a bunch of friends.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Senior care is a cottage industry in the Lake Chapala area now. There’s little oversight, no government regulation, no scheduled inspections. Many homes appear well-run, but there’s no guarantee, so it’s buyer beware.

Most places have just a handful of rooms, but that’s about to change.

DR. TRINO ZEPEDA, Mexico: We want to create a retirement community with all the services related with the aging in place.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Dr. Trino Zepeda is working on a new large-scale development.

DR. TRINO ZEPEDA: This is assisted living apartments, and it’s going to be here.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: He expects to break ground later this year on a $35 million U.S.-style community, eventually housing 350 people, offering independent living, assisted, nursing and memory care.

Whether those plans succeed may depend on whether Mexico can overcome an image problem. The drumbeat of news about drug cartel violence has included the 2012 kidnapping and killing of 18 Mexican nationals near Ajijic. And the U.S. State Department warns citizens to exercise caution in the state of Jalisco.

But none of that worries Rosemary Grayson.

ROSEMARY GRAYSON: You’re a lot, lot safer than I felt in the U.K., and certainly in the U.S. I think they said 100 people — 100 Americans were killed in Mexico last year. And they have now said that it’s not a safe destination. Well, you tell me how many safe destinations in the cities of America there are.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: And one more concern: Life moves at a slower pace here.

DAVID TRULY: Manana could mean manana or the day after manana or a week after manana.

But, you know, there is something to be said for the kind of laid-back, almost, you know, wake-me-up-when-we’re ready mentality.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Still, the thriving foreign community has lured baby boomers. The Lake Chapala Society, in business for 60 years, offers services for expats and others, from free eye exams, to bridge, to book clubs and volunteer opportunities.

Mark and Ann Woolley can imagine themselves living at Abbeyfield.

WOMAN: Oh, we’re putting our name on the list here.

KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: If the Woolleys are any indication, Mexico can expect an influx of Americans crossing the border for retirement.

I’m Kathleen McCleery for the PBS NewsHour near Lake Chapala, Mexico.