Category Archives: Assisted Living

Rude Awakening

I received the following email this morning. Maybe it is time to put out another advisory, that retirement in Panama is not for everyone.

Hi Don Ray,
I visited with Peter yesterday. He said he had found John on the floor at the Occidental apartment. Peter said it was a hard fall but nothing was broken. It looked like someone had taken a bat to John. Peter had him transported to Regional. When they checked in at ER no one asked who would be responsible for the bill.

Regional kept him for 4 nights. Peter purchased a wheelchair. He went out there to pick him up. They unhooked the tubes, put John in the chair and off they go. The hospital did not present Peter with a bill. or ask for payment.

Peter is trying to get John checked into El Hogar de los Ancianos. John is #4 on the waiting list. Peter said they were going to charge $700/month. Peter said there is a place in Dolega but that is too far for him to go.

Peter was very impressed that you had made the trip to the Occidental and that a lady from the embassy called.

I just thought I’d update you. Some Americans are in for a rude awakening when they learn they can’t find a care home.


Last month I visited another U.S. Citizen in Algorrobos that is also on the waiting list. He had recently had a stroke and his neighbor’s are taking care of him until a vacancy is open. Continue reading Rude Awakening

Another Great Day

This morning we went to take supplies to Robert in Hogar Santa Catalina. He was in great spirits and the happiest I have seen him. He had had phone calls from both of his sisters. One had called him on Memorial Day to thank him for his service to his country.

I wrote his sister after we left to let her know how happy he was to hear from his second sister. His first sister calls him pretty frequently. I stay in contact with her and send her photos such as the ones I took on his birthday.

I think Lilliam gets as much enjoyment as Robert on our visits. She talks to many of the residents and asks how they are and tries to make them know that they are not alone. Lilliam is a rare person.

One of the ladies there has early Alzheimer’s disease and usually tells Lilliam that her home isn’t far off and someone is on their way to take her home. They aren’t and it is always a similar story. Still she is always happy to see Lilliam.

This morning we had stopped by McDonalds and picked up Robert a pancake and sausage breakfast. He said he would save it for tomorrow.

Seeing Robert in such a good mood really brightened my day.

Panama Living Will Update

This week has provided two more learning experiences. In the past, I have written that if you have a Living Will, it would have to be in Spanish to be valid in Panama. I falsely assumed that your wishes would be taken into consideration in case of a situation where your life was only being maintained by artificial means, provided you had a legally executed document.

This week I have seen that the hospitals in Panama will not honor a legally executed Living Will or Power of Attorney specifying healthcare. These documents would be honored in hospitals in the U.S..

This may be enough to cause pause for some people considering moving to Panama. The understanding gained this week is that the hospitals will maintain life no matter the wishes of the individual or the individual’s family.

It is obviously financially beneficial for the hospital to keep a patient as long as possible, however, I do not know if this is a Panamanian law or if it is just universally observed.

In the past I have been involved with several cases where an individual has had an operation in Hospital Chiriqui and run up a bill of $30+ thousands of dollars. When the patient had run out of money, then the hospital transferred the patient to the Regional Hospital to die, while running up another bill. Continue reading Panama Living Will Update

Hogar Santa Catalina

Natalie and I went to take some supplies to Robert in Hogar Santa Catalina. While I was there I talked to the head nurse, who is one of the nurses that cares for Robert. She mentioned that they currently have a few openings that are available and I decided to pass it on.

Hogar Santa Catalina is a private care facility for the elderly. Some are ambulatory and some aren’t. They have three shifts of nurses, so there is always a nurse there.

I have found them to be very caring and very disciplined in caring for their clients. Robert is in a private room with a private bathroom and shower. It is the only room I have seen, so I can’t speak for all that is available. I do know that there is at least one like Robert’s room available.

They monitor all medication, and provide all meals. They have them eat in a group setting for meals.

I have seen several elderly care facilities in David, and this is the best I have seen. I have been impressed by the care that Robert has been given. Prior to coming here, he was in the bed 100% of the time. Now he is up for all meals. He sits outside in the mornings.

If there is a downside for Robert, it is that Spanish is the primary language here. Robert speaks some Spanish and understands a lot, but I am sure he would like to talk to others in English. There is one other man there that speaks some English.

The home is run by nuns and it is very clean and sanitary. It is a very good option for the elderly that can no longer care for themselves. I spoke to one lady that was visiting her mother and she said there was nothing to compare with it in all of Panama.

If you want more information, feel free to contact me.

Click HERE for a Google Map to Hogar Santa Catalina.

Healthcare in the Boonies

In case you are not familiar with the word “boonies”, the following is a definition I agree with.

American, colloquial word for wilderness or places in the middle of nowhere, far from any civilization

When it comes to Panama, I consider the boonies some place remote from a real hospital. There are many areas in Panama that are lucky to have a clinic and often to get to a clinic could take you an hour.

I mentioned the other day that my friend Malcolm, had a recent healthcare experience. Malcolm was on his finca (Finca Tranquila), and slipped in the shower. Hey, it happens to all of us as we get older.

Some how he managed to rip his elbow open and realized that his home medical kit was not going to be enough. His nearest clinic was in Almirante. He told me that he was lucky because the water was calm and it was only a 20 minute boat trip to get there.

Had it been in the middle of a storm, it might have been a minimum of an hour and he would have been thrown all over the boat.

He was pleased with how he was attended to and the quality of the stitching and was allowed to go home. Over the next week, pain increased, he became weaker, and eventually had himself transported back to David and to Chiriquí Hospital.

By the time he got to the hospital, he was in a serious condition. He was told that, had he waited much longer, he might not have survived. It seems that the elbow has a special sack that helps protect the elbow. If it gets ruptured, great care must be taken to avoid infection, because the fluid of the sack would be a conduit for the infection to spread through the entire body. Continue reading Healthcare in the Boonies

For Those That Have Asked

I have received many emails asking about assisted living in Panama and am always at a loss to provide an answer.

This morning, I saw that Richard Detrich’s blog was on this topic. While I have no experience with this organization, I felt if would be worthwhile to pass it on.

Here is Richard’s post on Finding Assisted Living in Panama.

If you are familiar with other solutions to this growing need, feel free to leave a comment. With each new day, I get closer to being a candidate.