Guide to Senior Living in Colorado
As of July 2019, 14.2% of Colorado’s 5.8 million residents were 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs projects that the state will have more than 1.6 million older adults (65+) by 2050. With special tax benefits for retirees, world-class museums, and many senior-friendly activities, Colorado is an excellent place to retire and enjoy life.
Thanks to its growing economy and many well-paying job opportunities, Colorado does have a higher cost of living than some states. Therefore, seniors can expect to pay, on average, more for care than the national average. For example, assisted living in Colorado costs $4,095 per month, which is slightly more than the national average of $4,051. This guide provides an overview of the costs of care in Colorado and provides information on some of the programs and resources available to seniors in the state.
The Cost of Senior Living in Colorado
Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living.
Note: Memory care is typically provided in communities licensed as assisted living facilities, and in general, costs 20-30% more than standard assisted living services. No authoritative cost data is available for this type of care, so we estimated memory care rates by adding 25% to assisted living fees in the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.
Long-term care is designed to meet the personal health or care needs of an individual. Settings include nursing homes, which offer comprehensive care with around-the-clock skilled nursing, medical treatment and services like meals, assistance with bathing and toileting and different types of therapy. Other types of long-term care include assisted living facilities, which are residential care communities that provide varying levels of home and community-based services, like housekeeping and transportation, and memory care for those with dementia-related illnesses. Active seniors may choose independent living, which provides seniors with a safe living environment but provides minimal assistance.
The cost of long-term care varies depending on the number of services needed. Independent living in Colorado is the least expensive at $3,088 per month, while a semiprivate room in a nursing home is the most expensive at $8,567. Assisted living communities have median monthly costs of $4,750 and adding memory care treatment to that increases the cost to around $5,938 per month, according to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
Nursing Home Care
The Cost of Assisted Living in Colorado
Assisted living communities have similar costs, but they can still vary depending on the exact location, the number of amenities and the types of treatment. Colorado residents pay around $4,750 per month, which is $250 more than the national average. Neighboring states like Wyoming have average community costs of around $4,169 per month and seniors in Utah pay $3,500. New Mexico and Kansas seniors pay nearly the same at $4,498 and $4,580.
The United States
The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Colorado
Nursing homes are one of the most expensive options for seniors who require help with daily living. Colorado residents pay $8,567. This is more than the national average of $7,908 and it’s one of the most expensive rates in the area. Wyoming residents can expect to pay around $6,996, while Utah and New Mexico seniors pay $7,178 and $7,604. Kansas has one of the least expensive rates at $6,296.
The United States
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Senior Living in Colorado?
Residential and long-term care can be expensive, especially for seniors on a budget, but Colorado Medicaid may provide assistance in paying for all or some of the costs. Medicaid is a federal and state insurance program for low-income seniors who require comprehensive insurance coverage.
Medicaid directly pays for services in a nursing home but those who choose to receive treatment in an assisted living community or memory care facility may only receive partial assistance through the Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver.
Like in most states, Medicaid doesn’t cover the cost of independent living because this is an optional residential living arrangement for active seniors who don’t require any type of medical intervention.
|Medicaid Coverage Level||Type of Medicaid Coverage||Entitlement?*|
|Nursing Home Care||Full||Medicaid||Yes|
*Entitlement programs mean that everyone who qualifies will receive coverage and be accepted into the programs. If the program is not “entitlement,” then participant caps could be in place, and there may be a waiting list.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living & Memory Care in Colorado
Medicaid doesn’t cover assisted living and memory care directly, but there is one waiver program that might be able to reduce the financial burden for those who qualify and need help.
Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver (EBD)
The EBD operates under Colorado’s Home and Community-Based Services Program (HCBS). This program provides help to eligible seniors so they may live at home or in assisted living facilities instead of in a nursing home. This waiver pays for services like adult day health, personal care assistance and personal emergency response systems.
To qualify for RBD, applicants must meet the standard income and asset limits for Medicaid and must be willing to receive treatment at home or in a community-based environment. The program does have a limit as to how many can receive benefits even if they qualify, so there’s often a waitlist. To apply, seniors should contact their local Single Entry Point Agency.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Nursing Home Care in Colorado
Colorado’s Medicaid program covers the cost of treatment in a nursing home provided a physician deems the care necessary and the individual meets all eligibility requirements. Services that are covered include personal care, skilled nursing, therapy, nutrition management, organized activities and transportation.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Colorado
Income verification is needed to determine eligibility for Colorado state Medicaid. Seniors must have an income from all sources that’s no greater that 300% of the federal poverty level, or $30,276 per year per applicant. In a two-person household when both seniors apply, the income limit is $60,552. Asset limits are $2,000 for a single applicant in a one-person household. In a two-person household, the asset amount is $2,000 per applicant and $137,400 for the non-applicant. If both spouses apply, the maximum asset limit is $4,000.
2022 Colorado Medicaid Income Limits
|Yearly Income Limits||Asset Limits|
|Two-Person Household(Only one applicant)||$30,276 per month for applicant||$2,000 for applicant$137,500 for non-applicant|
|Two-Person Household(Two applicants)||$60,552||$3,000 for separate rooms$4,000 for shared rooms|
Seniors applying for Medicaid must meet the following additional requirements for eligibility.
- Require a nursing home level of care
- 65 years of age or older or those with a disability
- U.S. citizen or legal resident
- Permanent Colorado resident
Applying for Medicaid in Colorado
Seniors may apply for Colorado Medicaid through the Health First online or over the phone at (800) 221-3943. To apply by mail, individuals may download an application and mail it to Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, 1570 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203-1818 or submit it in person at any local county human services department.
Before You Apply
Before applying for Colorado Medicaid, gather the information needed to prove eligibility.
- Government-issued ID
- Copy of Social Security statement
- Proof of income
- Copies of bank statements for the past three months
- Copies of financial information and powers of attorney documents
- Statements of life insurance policies
- Copies of financial bonds and stocks
- Copies of vehicle registrations
- Proof of property ownership
How to Get Help
Applying for Medicaid and understanding coverage amounts can seem like a daunting task for those new to the programs. These agencies can answer questions, determine eligibility and check the status for seniors who need help.
|Contact||What You Should Know|
|Health First Colorado||(800) 250-7741||Health First is the official site of the state’s Medicaid program and a place where individuals can get answers about coverage. By contacting the toll-free number, seniors may apply for coverage, get information on provider visits, emergency services, health and wellness and therapy. Counselors can also make changes to an account to ensure maximum coverage.|
|Benefit.gov||(303) 866-2993||Benefits.gov is a benefits resource finder for all states across the United States. Seniors can apply for benefits at the website and get information on disaster assistance, benefit eligibility, health screenings and eligibility.|
|Colorado PEAK||(800) 221-3943||Colorado PEAK is a website where seniors can for an apply for and manage their benefits online. Through PEAK, seniors may apply for Medicaid, food stamps, medical screenings and other state benefits.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Senior Living in Colorado?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living, independent living, or memory care. Unlike nursing homes, these care types are not considered to be “clinical settings” and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, those who live in these communities can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
When it comes to nursing home care, it gets much more complicated. Medicare does provide limited coverage for a qualified stay in a nursing home,but there are strict rules and requirements of which you should be aware. This benefit is available to seniors who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge.
Once you’ve met the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility (per benefit period). While the first 20 days are covered in full, there is a daily coinsurance rate that must be paid starting on day 21. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.
|Medicare Coverage||Medicare Coverage Duration||Coinsurance Requirement?|
|Nursing Home Care||Limited||100 Days Per Benefit Period||Yes – After 20 Days|
What Nursing Home Care Services Does Medicare Cover?
Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:
- A semiprivate room
- Skilled nursing services
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Audiologist care
- Medical supplies
- Medical social services
- Nutritional counseling
- Ambulance transportation
What Nursing Home Care Services Aren’t Covered by Medicare?
Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors’ day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.
Signing up for Medicare can be complicated with the different parts and options available. There are several organizations in Colorado that can help seniors navigate their plan choices for maximum benefits.
|Medicare Resource Center||(719) 358-6696||The Medicare Resource Center helps seniors understand the basics of Medicare, including the different parts and prescription coverage. Trained counselors can also provide assistance with enrollment and answer some of the most common questions about eligibility and the application process.|
|Colorado Gerontological Society||(303) 333-3482||The Colorado Gerontological Society is a nonprofit organization that offers free counseling on Medicare and Medicaid to Colorado seniors. Counselors offer information on applications, benefits and appeals. Other services offered include family support, telephone buddies for lonely seniors, health screenings and benefits and access to a variety of publications on aging.|
|Colorado Division of Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)||(303) 894-7552||Colorado SHIP provides assistance with the Medicare application and offers free insurance counseling and assistance. The agency answers questions about out-of-pocket costs, coverage, supplemental insurance and help finding local SHIP offices. Funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living, SHIP counselors also help seniors determine whether they are eligible for Medicare and other state benefit programs.|
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Senior Living in Colorado?
Depending on your unique situation, there may be other financial assistance options to partially or fully cover the cost of senior living in Colorado. Below, we cover some of the common ways that seniors can make senior living options such as assisted living or memory care more affordable.
|How to Get Started||What You Should Know|
|Aid and Attendance||Apply online at va.gov.||If you are a veteran and you receive a VA pension, you may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. This benefit takes the form of a monthly cash allowance that you receive in addition to your standard pension. This benefit is used by veterans who need long-term care services, including care received at an assisted living facility.|
|Reverse Mortgages||Research and learn about the different types at ftc.gov.||If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to access some of the equity in your home. Like traditional loans, reverse mortgages do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months, so seniors should carefully weigh this option alongside other financing methods.|
|Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance||Learn about how to receive LTC insurance benefits at acl.gov.||While those who currently need assisted living will typically not be eligible, if you purchased an LTC insurance policy in the past, you may be able to use it to help pay for assisted living. While most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, you still need to check the specific terms of your policy.|
Free Senior Living Resources for Seniors in Colorado
Colorado offers seniors a variety of resources that address all aspects of life as an older adult. Programs and services are available online, over the phone or on the internet, which allows seniors to easily get the help they need.
|Senior Resource Center||(303) 238-8151||The Senior Resource Center provides coordinated services that enhance the independence, dignity and quality of life of seniors in the area. These services include caregiver support, assistance with activities of daily living, yardwork, chores, meal prep, housekeeping and hygiene. The center also answers the most common questions seniors ask.|
|Adult Protective Services||(877) 268-2926||The APS program works to protect seniors from physical and sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation and fraud. Anyone witnessing elder abuse should report the incident to the APS who provides intervention. The organization can also provide safe, temporary housing while the investigation is ongoing.|
|State Unit on Aging||(877) 268-2926||The State Unit on Aging provides assistance to the 16 local Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state. The unit connects seniors with community-based services that help improve the overall quality of life, including nutrition, legal assistance, employment and educational materials.|
|Columbine Health Systems Center for Healthy Aging||(970) 495-2528||The Center for Healthy Aging advocates for change for state seniors through research, education and community engagement. The agency provides fitness, local speakers, yoga and education on health issues like Parkinsons.|
|2-1-1 Colorado||2-1-1||2-1-1 is a searchable database of programs and services for seniors. The hotline serves all 64 counties within the state and provides information on everything from financial assistance to insurance counseling.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Colorado Senior Living Facilities
The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including covid19.colorado.gov and cdc.gov/coronavirus. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 2/7/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes|
Senior Living Laws and Regulations in Colorado
Note: All these rules typically apply to non-clinical senior living facilities, such as independent living, assisted living, and memory care facilities. Nursing homes and other senior living facilities with a clinical setting may have additional or slightly different requirements and regulations.
In Colorado, the Department of Public Health and Environment is responsible for regulating senior living facilities. The DPHE defines an senior living facility as a residential facility that provides room, board, protective oversight, personal services, regular supervision and social care to at least three adults who aren’t related to the owner of the facility. All Colorado senior living facilities must have a license issued by the DPHE. If a facility isn’t in compliance with all state regulations, the DPHE has the right to revoke the facility’s license, suspend the license or not renew the license when the current one expires.
Administrator Training Requirements
Each administrator of a Colorado senior living facility must receive training from an accredited institution or an organization, corporation, association or group with specific expertise in ensuring the health and safety of senior citizens. The curriculum must include at least 30 hours of instruction, with at least 15 hours devoted to assessment skills, resident rights, nutrition, identifying and managing behaviors, emergency procedures, first aid and fire safety. The remainder of the program must address meeting the emotional and personal needs of seniors.
DPHE requires administrators of senior living facilities to be at least 21 years old. Administrators must also complete a department-approved training program or have documented education or work experience that’s equivalent to the successful completion of a department-approved training program. Direct-care staff must also meet several requirements established by DPHE. For example, staff and volunteers must be free of any infectious diseases that can be transferred to residents.
Senior living facilities are prohibited from employing staff members who are under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances or who can’t safely perform their job duties due to a physical or psychological impairment.
Staff Screening Requirements
All personnel must have a tuberculin skin test before they’re permitted to have contact with residents. Any staff member or volunteer who has direct contact with residents must also undergo a background check. If the facility uses contract labor from an outside agency, it’s the administrator’s responsibility to verify that each contractor has undergone a background check within no more than 12 months of starting work at the facility.
Before providing direct care to residents, new staff members must be given a tour of the facility and an orientation that covers resident rights, first aid, services available to residents, lift assistance, medication administration and training specific to the needs of residents living in the facility. For example, staff members in a memory care facility must receive training specific to working with older adults who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Within 30 days of starting, a new staff member must also receive training in infection control, assessment skills, resident rights, health emergency response and identifying and dealing with resident behaviors. Every two months, the administrator or his or her designee must review the emergency plan with employees on every shift.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does assisted living cost in Colorado?
In Colorado, assisted living costs an average of $4,095 per month, which is slightly above the national average of $4,051 per month. Costs tend to be higher in Denver’s major cities and resort towns.
Are there financial assistance programs for assisted living in Colorado?
Yes. Health First Colorado, the state Medicaid program, has a waiver for individuals who are elderly, blind or disabled. Under the waiver program, individuals who are at least 65 years old and have some type of functional impairment may qualify to receive Health First Colorado medical benefits and additional benefits to cover the cost of assisted living.
To qualify for the program, an individual must not make more than three times the Supplemental Security Income limit each month. The individual must also have no more than $2,000 in countable resources, which are assets that can be converted to cash. Examples of countable resources include cash, automobiles, bank accounts and personal property. The financial limits are slightly higher for couples.
What types of services are available in assisted living?
Assisted living facilities typically offer services that ensure the safety and well-being of seniors while also helping them maintain their independence. Available services include assistance with bathing and feeding, medication management, daily meals, housekeeping, laundry services and health and wellness programs.
What types of amenities are commonly available in assisted living communities?
Many facilities offer additional amenities to create a home-like environment and ensure that residents have plenty of opportunities to socialize and stay active. Amenities vary from one facility to the next, but they may include private dining rooms, on-site libraries or computer centers, gardens or landscaped grounds, activity centers, salon services and planned outings to local attractions.
What is the difference between assisted living and nursing homes?
The key differences between an assisted living facility and a nursing home are the environment and the level of care provided. Nursing homes provide medical care to residents, and they look somewhat like hospitals. Nursing home residents may be able to keep a few personal items with them, but they can’t bring their own furniture or set up their rooms the way they want them. Assisted living facilities are designed to look more like private homes. Some facilities consist of individual houses or apartments, while others have several suites in one building. Residents have more freedom to decorate their living spaces and decide how they’re going to spend their time.
Learn More About Senior Living in Colorado
For more information about specific types of senior living in Colorado read our Guide to Assisted Living and Independent Living.
The Top Cities for Senior Living in Colorado
Learn more about the cost of senior living in the top Colorado cities. Additionally, find reviews and information about assisted living facilities and other senior living communities across the state.
- Akron (2)
- Alamosa (2)
- Arriba (1)
- Arvada (17)
- Aspen (1)
- Ault (1)
- Aurora (35)
- Berthoud (1)
- Boulder (10)
- Brighton (5)
- Broomfield (10)
- Brush (3)
- Buena Vista (1)
- Burlington (1)
- Calhan (1)
- Canon City (6)
- Carbondale (3)
- Castle Rock (11)
- Centennial (10)
- Cheyenne Wells (1)
- Colorado Springs (74)
- Commerce City (2)
- Cortez (2)
- Craig (2)
- Cripple Creek (1)
- Del Norte (2)
- Delta (2)
- Denver (106)
- Dolores (1)
- Durango (6)
- Eads (2)
- Eagle (1)
- Eaton (1)
- Eckert (1)
- Englewood (14)
- Evans (2)
- Evergreen (3)
- Flagler (2)
- Florence (2)
- Fort Collins (21)
- Fort Lupton (3)
- Fort Morgan (2)
- Fowler (2)
- Fruita (2)
- Glendale (1)
- Glenwood Springs (5)
- Golden (2)
- Grand Junction (26)
- Greeley (21)
- Greenwood Village (3)
- Gunnison (1)
- Hayden (1)
- Highlands Ranch (6)
- Holly (2)
- Holyoke (1)
- Hudson (1)
- Kremmling (1)
- La Jara (1)
- La Junta (1)
- Lafayette (3)
- Lakewood (35)
- Lamar (3)
- Las Animas (1)
- Leadville (1)
- Limon (1)
- Littleton (25)
- Longmont (15)
- Louisville (7)
- Loveland (11)
- Mancos (1)
- Monte Vista (2)
- Montrose (10)
- Monument (2)
- Morrison (1)
- Northglenn (2)
- Olathe (1)
- Ordway (1)
- Pagosa Springs (3)
- Palisade (2)
- Paonia (1)
- Parker (11)
- Pueblo (15)
- Pueblo West (2)
- Rifle (2)
- Rocky Ford (4)
- Salida (1)
- Simla (2)
- Springfield (1)
- Steamboat Springs (1)
- Sterling (2)
- Strasburg (1)
- Thornton (6)
- Timnath (1)
- Trinidad (2)
- Walsenburg (1)
- Walsh (1)
- Wellington (1)
- Westminster (11)
- Wheat Ridge (12)
- Windsor (3)
- Wray (1)
- Yuma (2)