A common complaint of many Cuenca expats is the city’s lack of high quality adult assisted living options.
Typical of the frustration was a recent Facebook post by Martha Simmons. “My husband and I have visited several adult care homes in Cuenca and found them inadequate for our needs,” she wrote. “We are in our late 70s and are in good health except for my walking difficulties and my husband’s diabetes which needs close monitoring. What we are looking for is a modern, comfortable, well-equipped facility where we can live independently but be close to 24-hour help in case of an emergency. We also want to be close to our friends in Cuenca.”
Cost is also important, Martha said. “In the U.S., assisted living homes for seniors are outrageously expensive and it would be impossible for us to afford something there.”
A 2019 survey shows that the monthly rates for U.S. live-in homes for active seniors that include 24-hour services average $6,700 while facilities that offer intensive nursing care run $8,300.
Martha’s needs and those of many other expat seniors were on Maria Daniela Larriva’s mind when she began planning Rioquinto Seniors Club, a facility for active elderly adults in the Cuenca suburb of Challuabamba. “There is a great need for this kind of residence facility for elderly Cuencanos as well as for foreign residents. My family and I decided to build an assisted living home that is comfortable and comes with all the amenities for people who want to live independently but need a little extra attention, maybe because they have a condition that limits their physical activity in traditional living situations,” she said. “The plan was to build a live-in facility that meets international standards.”
Designed by an award-winning Cuenca architect, the 24-suite Rioquinto is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in March.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Maria had to look outside of the country to find a model for the project she had in mind. “There is really nothing like it in Ecuador so we had to go outside to find the concept and design we wanted,” she says. “Specifically our project is based on senior living projects in Medellin, Colombia.”
Maria explains that Rioquinto differs from other elder care facilities in Cuenca that offer intensive round-the-clock care for those with physical and mental disabilities who can no longer care for themselves. “We are a home for active older adults who need some nursing assistance but can live comfortably on their own,” she says. “We will have a gym, a game room, a television room, Jacuzzi, common kitchen facilities, a hair salon and a small store for the purchase of essential household items. Beyond this, our goal is simply to provide a high quality of life. We want people to feel at home here.”
Among the plans for Rioquinto, Maria says, is a program of group activities, including exercise classes and workshops that residents will assist in organizing.
The spacious private suites at Rioquinto include a bath and an outside terrace. All suites are built around a central courtyard and garden with a wide, covered walkway surrounding the courtyard. The entire facility is on one level, easily navigated by walkers as well as those in wheelchairs.
Rioquinto’s cost of $1,500 per month for individuals and $2,700 for couples is turnkey, and includes up to five meals a day, daily medical supervision, medication management service, a variety of therapeutic activities, housekeeping, laundry, internet, CATV and 24-hour security. Transportation to and from Cuenca, only minutes away on the Azogues autopista, will be coordinated by Rioquinto management.