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a calavera,” the caller intoned, as Beatriz García placed a turquoise glass bead over the skull-and-crossbones icon on one of the two brightly colored cards on the table in front of her. on a Tuesday morning at Lindos Momentos Adult Day Care in Mc Allen, and the — a bingo-like game featuring iconography drawn from Mexican folklore — was already in full swing.

Beatriz, 74, has five children and worked for 21 years in a local elementary school cafeteria. He’s 80 and picked cotton for 25 cents an hour as a migrant farmworker in his youth, and later worked as a handyman.

After all, there are substantial low-income and chronically ill populations in many of the state’s larger urban centers with proportionally fewer adult day cares.

“It’s become sort of a cultural phenomenon,” said Jacqueline Angel, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies Latinos and aging.

Hispanic seniors are more likely than Anglos to live at home with their children or other family members.

The Valley also has a persistently high poverty rate and a percentage of seniors with diabetes, heart disease, depression and dementia that is alarmingly higher than the national average.

These are facilities that offer social activities, health monitoring and assistance with daily living that enable older or disabled adults to continue living in their homes, and often provide a needed respite to family caregivers.

“If you want to save the government money, this helps in a lot of ways,” Salinas said.

Adult day cares in the Valley wouldn’t exist without Medicaid, but the region’s high rate of enrollment doesn’t entirely explain their ubiquity.

“A lot of these people don’t just need a place to come to, they need someone to talk with — and that’s our job,” she said.

Ninety percent of the members at Lindos Momentos are enrolled in Medicaid, which pays for their care.

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