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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.

Paying for Senior Living in Colorado

While assisted living is one of the most popular types of care in Colorado, seniors do have other options. Adult day care tends to be the most affordable, while care in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility is the most expensive.

$4957

In-Home Care

$4095

Senior Living

$4957

Home Health Care

$1625

Adult Day Care

$8197

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Assisted Living in Colorado

According to the Genworth 2019 Cost of Care Survey, it costs an average of $4,095 per month for assisted living services in Colorado, which is slightly higher than the national average of $4,051. The cost of assisted living varies from state to state due to differences in the cost of living, the number of service providers and other factors. For example, average costs in Utah are much lower, but New Mexico has a slightly higher average cost of care despite its overall lower cost of living.

$4095

Colorado

$4051

United States

$3400

Utah

$3750

Arizona

$3780

Wyoming

$4100

New Mexico

The Cost of In-Home Care in Colorado

Colorado is one of the most expensive states for any type of care related to aging. Even the most basic type, in-home care, can run up monthly fees of $4,957. This rate is well above the national average of $4,290. Additionally, Colorado is more expensive than neighboring states Arizona, $4,767; Utah, $4,576; and New Mexico, $4,290. Only Wyoming is more expensive with costs adding up to $5,339 a month.  

$4957

Colorado

$4290

United States

$4767

Arizona

$5339

Wyoming

$4576

Utah

$4290

New Mexico

The Cost of Nursing Home Care in Colorado

Colorado’s nursing home system is one of the more expensive options available to aging seniors who require more care than they can provide for themselves. At a monthly rate of $8,197 this is $684 above the national average of $7,513. Neighboring states of Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico offer less expensive nursing home care. Utah and Arizona are the most affordable with monthly fees amounting to $6,403 and $6,433, respectively. Wyoming and New Mexico are more expensive at $7,346 and $7,330—but they are still less than Colorado.

$8197

Colorado

$7513

United States

$6433

Arizona

$6403

Utah

$7330

New Mexico

Financial Assistance for Senior Living in Colorado

Health First Colorado

Health First Colorado is Colorado’s Medicaid program, and it covers the cost of medical care and related services for residents who meet specific eligibility requirements. In Colorado, the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver program may cover the costs of senior living for older adults who want to live as independently as possible. The Elderly, Blind, and Disabled Waiver provides coverage for assisted living, in-home care or other services that help seniors remain in their homes or in the community.

The Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver is available to adults aged 65 and older who are blind or have some type of functional impairment and require long-term support services similar to those that would be provided in a nursing facility. Applicants must also meet certain financial guidelines. For example, the monthly income limit is three times the current Federal Supplemental Security Income limit, which is $783 for individuals and $1,175 for couples in 2020. An individual must also have less than $2,000 in countable resources, which are assets that can be sold for cash and used to pay for medical care and related services. Seniors who qualify for the waiver will receive medical benefits from Health First Colorado as well as coverage for assisted living, adult day care or other services specific to the waiver.

Contact: Seniors can apply for Health First Colorado by calling 1-800-221-3943, mailing an application, visiting a local county office or application assistance site or visiting the Colorado PEAK website. Older adults interested in receiving services under the Elderly, Blind, and Disabled Waiver can also visit a local single entry point agency, which is an agency that provides case management and referrals to Health First Colorado members who are elderly, blind or disabled.

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.

Staffing Requirements

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.

Training Requirements

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.

Colorado Senior Living Free Resources

Colorado Agencies

State Unit on Aging

Colorado’s State Unit on Aging brings together several important resources, making it easier for seniors to get the services they need. The State Unit on Aging operates the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which advocates for the rights of older adults in senior living facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care environments.

The State Unit on Aging also manages Aging and Disability Resources Colorado, a resource that provides seniors with unbiased information on their long-term care options. Seniors can also contact the State Unit on Aging for help finding local nutrition programs, legal assistance and other support services. Eligibility requirements for these services are specific to each program.

Contact: Seniors can learn more about the State Unit on Aging by contacting the Colorado Department of Human Services at (303) 866-5700. The direct telephone number for the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services is (303) 866-3671.

Area Agencies on Aging in Colorado

The Area Agencies on Aging are public agencies or private organizations operating in each state to give seniors access to resources that can help them remain in their communities for as long as possible. Colorado has 16 regional offices staffed by professionals who understand what resources are available to seniors in their service areas. Some regional offices serve a single county, while others have several counties combined into one coverage area. Staff members may be able to provide information on senior living facilities, healthy meal programs, social activities and other resources for seniors.

Veterans Affairs Offices in Colorado

Veterans who served in any of the five branches of the military, along with their surviving spouses, may qualify for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. One of the main benefits offered by the VA is medical coverage, but many veterans also receive a VA pension, which could help them qualify for an additional benefit known as the Aid and Attendance pension benefit. The Aid and Attendance benefit provides funds for senior living and other long-term care services.

Eligibility for this benefit depends on the veteran’s health status. It is available to veterans — and, in some cases, surviving spouses — who spend most of their time in bed, have limited eyesight, live in a nursing home due to an impairment related to a disability or need help with feeding, bathing and other activities of daily living.

VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICEADDRESSPHONE NUMBER
Boulder Vet Center4999 Pearl East Circle, Suite 106
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 440-7306
Colorado Springs Vet Center602 South Nevada Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 471-9992
Denver Vet Center7465 East First Ave, Suite B
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 326-0645
RCS Continental District 4 Office789 Sherman St, Suite 570
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 577-5207
Fort Collins Vet Center702 W Drake, Building C
Fort Collins, CO 80526
(970) 221-5176
Grand Junction Vet Center2472 Patterson Rd, Unit 16
Grand Junction, CO 81505
(970) 345-4156
Pueblo Vet Center1515 Fortino Blvd, Suite 130
Pueblo, CO 81008
(719) 583-4074

Social Security Offices in Colorado

Many Colorado seniors receive monthly payments from the Social Security Administration. The funds for these payments come from payroll taxes levied on employers and their employees. Once a senior receives a Social Security payment, the money can be spent on medical care, senior living services, in-home care and other necessities.

Some seniors also receive Social Security disability payments. Due to the amount of time it takes for a disability application to be approved, some applicants receive large back payments. These back payments must be spent on current needs, improving living conditions or special purchases to make a home or vehicle more accommodating to a disability, in that order. Under these guidelines, Social Security disability funds may be used to pay for senior living services.

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.

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.

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