Guide to Independent Living in Colorado
Colorado is situated in the western region of the nation and is a popular retirement destination for active seniors seeking diverse recreational options, a strong economy and high access to affordable health care. Of the state’s 5.8 million residents, about 15% are retirement-aged, and the senior community is projected to grow rapidly during the coming years.
Colorado is among the more expensive places in the country to live, with a cost of living that’s about 20% higher than the national median. This is primarily due to high housing costs that exceed the national average by 66%. Despite expensive housing, independent living rates are only a little higher than the national average at $3,088 per month. Additionally, the state’s income tax laws benefit retirees, and groceries and medications are exempt from sales taxes. Affordable independent living and retirement-friendly tax laws may offset high living costs and make Colorado a budget-friendly option for those with fixed incomes.
Independent living is ideal for those who don’t need medical monitoring or personal care but want to live in an environment that supports a low-maintenance lifestyle and access to social and recreational opportunities. This guide provides information on this senior lifestyle, including typical care costs, ways to pay for services and resources for older adults throughout Colorado.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost 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 as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
Independent living communities in Colorado charge an estimated $3,088 per month, which is about $160 more than the national median of $2,925. Rates in Colorado’s bordering states tend to be lower, with Utah coming in with the lowest monthly fees at $2,275. Older adults in Wyoming pay $2,710 per month. In New Mexico and Kansas, rates are consistent with the national median at $2,924 and $2,977, respectively.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Colorado’s Top Cities
Independent living fees vary throughout Colorado, depending on factors, such as the local cost of living and access to services. Pueblo is the cheapest surveyed city in Colorado for this type of care, with independent living communities charging $2,470 per month. In Fort Collins and Grand Junction, respective care costs average $2,600 and $2,763, and in Greeley, rates are closer to the national median at $2,860. Fees in Colorado Springs come in at $3,031, and in the capital city of Denver, fees average $3,575. Boulder is the most expensive surveyed city in Colorado for care, with estimated rates of $4,079.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Older adults in Colorado have multiple care options, depending on their budgets, lifestyle preferences and care needs. Older adults who live in their own homes and attend adult day health care pay $1,950 per month. Those who don’t need personal care services but want a low-maintenance lifestyle pay $3,088 for independent living, and seniors who need help with daily living activities pay $4,750 for assisted living. Basic homemaker services and skilled home health aide services cost $6,387 per month, and semiprivate accommodations in a nursing home costs $8,567.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facilities
Nursing Home (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Colorado?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Colorado to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Colorado.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Colorado
Paying for independent living entirely out-of-pocket isn’t feasible for everyone, but that doesn’t mean this lifestyle is out of reach. Older adults have numerous options for funding independent living services, depending on their assets. Those who own their homes but don’t want to sell may use the equity to supplement retirement income via a reverse mortgage. Seniors with access to a large sum of cash may convert it into a steady stream of monthly payments by purchasing an annuity, and in some cases, the individual’s life insurance policy may provide access to death benefits to pay for senior care services. Finally, while long-term care insurance doesn’t typically provide full coverage for independent living, it may cover certain services and bring down the overall monthly cost.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Colorado
Colorado seniors have access to numerous free and low-cost programs and services to maximize their safety and comfort throughout their retirement years. The following resource table lists nonprofit organizations and government programs that help older adults find options for paying for independent living, find discounts for activities in the community and connect with social and recreational programs.
|Longevity Colorado||Online Contact Form||Longevity Colorado is a statewide nonprofit organization that provides outreach and supportive services to older adults throughout the state. Through this organization, seniors can find the latest research on age-related topics, such as preventing isolation and loneliness, statewide health policies that affect seniors and resources in the community.|
|AARP Colorado||(866) 554-5376||AARP has a range of informational resources for older adults, including tips on accessing Social Security benefits, understanding state policies that affect retirees and avoiding scams. The organization also has a membership option with benefits, such as discounts for recreational activities and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.|
|Colorado Eldercare Planning Council||(800) 989-8137||The Colorado Eldercare Planning Council provides information on numerous aspects of senior care, including options for paying for services, obtaining affordable health insurance and locating resources in the community. It also has an up-to-date list of senior centers throughout the state.|
|State Unit on Aging||(303) 866-5700||The State Unit on Aging oversees Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state. Through these local organizations, older adults connect with options counselors, legal and financial advisors and case managers who help them make informed decisions regarding their long-term care needs.|
|Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs||(303) 914-5832||The Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs oversees local service offices throughout the state. At these locations, veterans access state and federal benefits, including those that may cover independent living services.|
|AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP||(303) 297-0408||AmeriCorps Seniors-RSVP is a national service program that provides volunteer opportunities to those aged 55 and over. Older adults get personalized assistance with matching with volunteer opportunities that fit their interests and experience.|
|Senior Health Care & Medicare Assistance||(888) 696-7213||SHIP is a statewide program that offers free health insurance options counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. Through this program, seniors get accurate information on what Medicare covers and the private Medicare options available to them.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Colorado Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from covid19.colorado.gov, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/7/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.
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|