San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Where Can I Find an Assisted-Living Facility?

For several months my neighbor and I have been in search of assisted-living facilities in the San José area. Our results found some listed were no longer in business. Others provided only daycare.

Others accepted women only. Are you aware of any facilities that accept both men and women and are comfortable with foreigners?

Alan Currier

Sabanilla, Montes de Oca

First, a bit of terminology for readers who don’t know the lingo in this field, regardless of country: Distinction is made between “assisted living” and “skilled-nursing care.” The former entails personal and custodial care only, in the so-called “activities of daily living,” such as bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming. Skilled-nursing care encompasses assisted-living services plus nursing and medical care. Facilities accredited for skilled nursing – we commonly refer to them as “nursing homes” – are required to have nursing staff on site at all times, plus a physician on call at all times. An assisted-living facility can contact medical personnel, but has no such staff on site.

We know of two places in Costa Rica that provide the services you are looking for and are accustomed to dealing with foreigners; unfortunately, both have waiting lists.

Finca Futuro Verde (494-5187,, Rincón de Salas, Grecia) possibly comes closest to what you are looking for. The home, which provides full assisted-living services and is in a small community just outside the western Central Valley city of Grecia, has space for six permanent residents and 10 day visitors.

Presently there is a waiting list, according to the facility’s Josefa Corella, but the wait time and application process are not usually long.Villa Alegría Skilled Nursing Center (433-8590, Barrio San José, Alajuela, offers a combination of assisted living and skilled nursing care.

The facility northwest of San José mixes both types of residents, Villa Alegría’s Marjorie Romero told us. She added that while most residents there are Alzheimer’s patients in varying stages of the disease, that is not a prerequisite to enter the facility. In fact, many residents are completely lucid, Romero said.Villa Alegría also has a waiting list at the moment.

Many facilities in Costa Rica fall under the general term used by the average person here, hogares de ancianos (loosely translated as “old folks’ homes”). All must meet accreditation standards specified by the Ministry of Public Health, which refers to them specifically as centros diurnos y hogares (“day centers and residences”). Those standards appear on the ministry’s Web page (Spanish only) at Click on ingresar al sitio (“enter site”), then normas (“norms”), then, in PDF format, Manual de normas para la acreditación de establecimientos de atención integral de la persona adulta mayor: centro diurno-hogar. (“Manual of accreditation standards for establishments providing attention to older adults: day centers and residences”).

Last but not least, we will toss in mention of another service, although it is not exactly what you are looking for. The recently launched Costa Rica branch of U.S.-based Homewatch Caregivers (201-5265, offers many of the services provided by the two facilities named above, but in the client’s own home, according to business manager Karol Jiménez.

Services range from assisted-living care to minor medical care for any length of time desired by the client, from one hour, to partial days, to nights, to around-the-clock periods.


Comments are closed.