Assisted Living in Colorado
Colorado is a beautiful state with a diverse landscape of river canyons, deserts and rocky mountains in the western part of the United States. It has a population of just over 5.8 million and 14.6% of its residents are aged 65 and over. The cost of living in Colorado is far higher than the national average. However, many seniors choose to spend their retirement years in the state because of the pleasant weather, good air and water quality and access to excellent health care.
Assisted living facilities can be a practical option for seniors who are independent but require some day-to-day support with personal care tasks. The average cost of assisted living in Colorado is $4,750 per month, which is more expensive than the national ($4,500) and majority of surrounding states. Health First Colorado offers an Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver that may assist with the cost of long-term care, making it financially accessible to seniors.
This guide covers the cost of assisted living and other types of care in the state. It also lists some resources to help seniors with various needs, such as legal, financial and benefits.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost in in Colorado?
The Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey lists the average cost of assisted living in Colorado as being $4,750 per month. This is slightly above the national average of $4,500. Colorado’s assisted living fees are higher than neighboring states, such as Kansas ($4,580) and Nebraska ($4,076). Utah has some of the most affordable fees in the region, averaging $3,500 per month.
The United States
The Cost of Assisted Living in Colorado’s Top Cities
The cost of assisted living varies across the state. Pueblo is one of the most affordable cities for assisted living, with average fees of $3,800. The service is also relatively affordable in Grand Junction ($4,250) and Greely ($4,400). In contrast, larger cities, such as Denver ($5,500) and Boulder ($6,275), have assisted living fees far above the national and state averages.
The Cost of Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Care
Assisted living is not always the most appropriate form of long-term care. Seniors who are still relatively mobile and require only limited assistance may benefit from having a home health aide or using homemaker services, at $6,387 per month. This is more costly than an assisted living facility because of the one-to-one nature of the services provided. Adult day care services, delivered during daytime hours in a group setting, typically charge $1,950 per month. Nursing home facilities are aimed at those who require 24-hour skilled nursing, and the higher costs ($8,567/month) reflect this standard of care.
Home health aide
Adult day care
Assisted living facility
Nursing home facility (semiprivate room)
Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Assisted Living in Colorado?
Health First Colorado does not directly cover the cost of assisted living, however, the Medicaid Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver can cover the expenses incurred at state-licensed assisted living facilities. The Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver is not an entitlement program. This means funds are limited, so not everyone who meets the eligibility criteria is accepted into the program.
Medicaid’s Coverage of Assisted Living in Colorado
The Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver can be used to cover the cost of long-term care services in Alternative Care Facilities (ACF) in Colorado. These facilities offer 24-hour supervision, personal care services and medication assistance for seniors. The waiver can also cover transition assistance, transportation for non-medical reasons, personal emergency response alarms and meal services.
Waiver Programs for Assisted Living in Colorado
Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver
The Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver is aimed at those aged 65 and over who have been assessed as having a significant functional impairment. The waiver is also open to those who are under the age of 64 and meet certain clinical eligibility criteria. To qualify, seniors must have an income of no more than 300% of the federal Supplemental Security Income limit per month and meet certain asset requirements. The EBD covers the cost of care at licensed assisted living facilities in the state, but places on the program are limited, and meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee acceptance.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Colorado
To qualify for Health First Colorado, seniors must meet certain income and asset limits. These limits vary depending on whether the applicant is a single person or applying as part of a couple. The income limits are $10,092 for a sole applicant or $15,132 for someone who is part of a couple. The asset limits are $2,000 for solo applicants and $3,000 for couples, with a special disregard for the family home.
How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Colorado
2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Colorado
|Income Limits*||Asset Limits|
(Only One Person Applying)
|$15,132||$3,000 for applicant|
$137,400 for non-applicant
(Both People Applying)
In addition to the above, seniors must meet citizenship criteria and be assessed as requiring help with the activities of daily living. The general eligibility criteria are:
- Seniors aged 65 and over, or individuals living with a disability
- Citizens or meet residence requirements
- Able to pass a clinical needs assessment
Applying for Medicaid in Colorado
Seniors can apply for Medicaid by calling the Colorado Department of Human Services at (800) 221-3943. Alternatively, applications can be made online via the Health First Colorado website.
Before You Apply
Medicaid applicants will be asked to provide information to prove they’re eligible for the program. Having the correct documentation to submit during the application process may help to expedite it. Those who don’t have certain documents readily available should contact Health First Colorado for advice, as alternative options may be provided. Seniors should try to have the following documents on hand:
- Passport and/or birth certificate
- Proof of SSI/Veteran’s benefits
- Bank statements
- Information about health insurance policies
- Property deeds
- Car titles
- Information about investments and other assets
- Evidence of any relevant medical conditions.
Where to Go to Get Help
The following organizations offer help and support for seniors who wish to apply for Medicaid and its associated waivers. These organizations offer information about the eligibility criteria, application and appeals process.
|Benefits.gov||(303) 866-2993||Benefits.gov is a national website offering information about state and federal benefits. The Colorado Medicaid page has a detailed breakdown of what the program covers, its eligibility requirements and the application process. It also provides useful telephone numbers and links to help seniors apply for Medicaid.|
|Single Entry Point Agencies||See list for the nearest local agency||There are several Single Entry Point agencies in the state. These agencies provide case management services, information and referrals for Medicaid programs. Seniors can contact their nearest agency for support with the Medicaid application process.|
|Health First Colorado||(800) 221-3943||Health First Colorado is the state Medicaid website. Seniors can use the portal to apply for Medicaid and can also access a knowledge base, including information about the application process, eligibility criteria and the different waivers and programs available in the state.|
Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Assisted Living in Colorado?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Colorado. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities are not considered to be “clinical settings’ and so are not eligible for Medicare coverage. That being said, you can still use Medicare to cover the cost of approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc.
For more information about what Medicare visit medicare.gov.
Are There Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Colorado?
|How to Apply||How It Works|
|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 and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Colorado
Colorado seniors can contact the following nonprofit organizations to request help with applying for benefits to cover the cost of long-term care or to access practical support to help them remain independent as they age. These organizations can help find alternative care facilities, support seniors with transitioning, provide access to social programs and help with everyday living solutions.
|Long Term Care Ombudsman||(303) 480-6734||The Long Term Care Ombudsman advocates for seniors who are living in long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen liaise with seniors and their families and serve as a contact point for complaints or concerns about elder abuse or neglect or issues with the care seniors are receiving at an alternative care facility.|
|Area Agency on Aging||(970) 264-0501||There are several Area Agencies on Aging covering each geographic area of Colorado. These agencies provide a range of services to seniors, including running local senior centers, delivering meal services and finding transportation programs. Seniors can contact the C4A to locate their nearest agency.|
|Colorado VA Centers||See list for the nearest local center||There are several VA Centers in Colorado, offering health services, benefits counseling and other support for veterans and their immediate relatives. These centers can help former military personnel access the benefits they’re entitled to.|
|Social Security Offices||See list for nearest regional office||Social Security Offices help individuals navigate the social security/disability benefits system. Field officers can help seniors understand which benefits they’re entitled to, assist with appeals or applications, and provide documentation, if required, as part of a Medicaid application.|
|Colorado Legal Services||(303) 837-1313||Colorado Legal Services is a nonprofit organization providing free civil legal services for Colorado residents. It offers help with consumer rights issues, benefits, tenancy disputes and other issues that may affect seniors. Resources are limited and are allocated on a case-by-case basis to those with the greatest need.|
COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Colorado
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|
Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Colorado
The Colorado Department of Public Health oversees assisted living facilities, or Alternative Care Facilities, in the state. Facilities are required to abide by laws and regulations relating to health and safety, staff training and background checks, admission requirements and the type of care the facilities can provide.