Assisted Living & Senior Living in U.S.

Colorado Senior Living

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Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in America, as well as one of the most outdoor-friendly. Within the state there are four national parks, three national historic trails, 11 national forests, two national grasslands, 42 national wilderness areas, eight national wildlife refuges, and numerous other non-federal designated wildlife areas. Is Colorado a good destination for senior living?

Services for a senior living in Colorado

Colorado Senior LivingColorado has large number of services for seniors, some of which we will discuss here, but many of them are handled by either Colorado's Area Agency on Aging or the Ombudsman.

Colorado’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) helps older Coloradans. The main goal is to plan and provide services for Colorado seniors and address the needs of the elderly adults and people with disabilities who are living in Colorado. The Colorado AAA has contacts and contracts with many community-based agencies to provide a variety of necessary services to seniors who live in Colorado, including: information and referral services, case management, meal delivery, senior centers, and legal services.

The state of Colorado also has a Long Term Care Ombudsman, a service that makes sure seniors who live in Colorado resolve any complaints they may have with their living facilities. These facilities include Colorado assisted living facilities, as well as nursing homes. The purpose of the Ombudsman Program is to ensure that Colorado residents' rights are being respected and met. They also advocate on the behalf of residents, solve or mediate problems – be it with facilities, agencies, or families – and try to advocate for improvements in the Colorado long-term care industry. Every facility has an ombudsman and can help Colorado seniors find a facility or resolve problems should problems arise.

Some of the services that are available for senior citizens living in Colorado include (depending on eligibility):

  • Colorado Dental Health Care Program for Low-Income Seniors – a service which provides a discount on dental care to those seniors who are 60 and over and whose income is not sufficient to meet the costs of the dental work needed. You must meet certain requirements to be eligible;
  • Elderly, Blind, & Disabled Waiver (EBD) – this waiver is an addition to Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) that seniors may be eligible for in certain cases. It provides help to Colorado seniors that are 65 and older with a functional impairment or are blind. It is also available to those aged 18-64 who are disabled or have a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS. The person must require long-term support to remain in the community. To receive benefits from the EDB waiver you must:
  1. Require long-term support similar to the services that are usually provided in a nursing facility;
  2. Must be 18 years of age or older; if an applicant is between 18-64 they must be blind, have a physical disability, or be diagnosed with HIV or AIDS; and
  3. If the senior is 65 or older, they must have been diagnosed with a significant functional impairment;
  4. Meet the financial requirements:
  1. Income must be less than $2,199 per month;
  2. A single individual can’t have countable resources over $2,000; or
  3. A couple can’t have countable resources over $3,000.
  • Community Mental Health Supports Waiver (CMHS) – this waiver provides help to Colorado seniors and non-seniors with a mental illness that necessitates long-term support and services in order for the individual to stay in the community. It also:
  1. Works with or increases the services that a person is eligible for via the Health First Colorado State plan as well as other federal, state or local programs that may be in place;
  2. Works with the supports that are provided by families and communities; and
  3. If you receive services through this waiver program, you are automatically eligible for all of the services that are covered by Health First Colorado except nursing facility and long-term hospital care.

To be eligible for the CMHS Waiver you must be willing to receive services in either your home or the community and meet the following requirements:

  1. Require long-term support similar to the services that are typically provided in a nursing facility;
  2. Must be experiencing a severe and on-going mental health need that requires help with one or more activities of daily living (ADL), but doesn’t include intellectual or developmental disorders or substance use or abuse without an accompanying diagnosis of a severe and on-going mental health need.

The financial requirements of the CMHS Waiver are:

    1. An income of less than $2,199 per month;
    2. A single person can’t have resource of more than $2,000; and
    3. A couple can’t have resources of more than $3,000.
  • Old Age Pension Health and Medical Care Program (OAP) – this is a senior program that provides limited medical care for Coloradans who are receiving Old Age Pension and make too much money to qualify for Health First Colorado. Eligibility requirements include:
    • The Colorado senior must be receiving “Old Age Pension;”
    • The senior does not qualify for Health First Colorado; and
    • The senior is not institutionalized for either tuberculosis or a mental disorder; and
  • Program For All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – a program that is run by Medicare and Health First Colorado which provides both health care and support services to seniors who are 55 and older. The goal of the program is to help frail seniors remain in their communities by providing needs-based services. To qualify for PACE you must:
    • Be 55 years of age or older;
    • Need nursing-facility level care (this is determined by a single point entry agency);
    • Live in one of the counties served by PACE: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Jefferson, Pueblo, El Paso, Delta, or Montrose; and
    • Not be a threat to your health or safety while living in a community setting.

Costs of Assisted Living in Colorado

It costs about $4,000 per month ($49,000) on average for care in an Assisted Living Facility in Colorado, although the amount may increase depending on the services needed. Although higher than the national average of $3,293 per month, Colorado is a state with a higher cost of senior living than the national average, but a large portion of that is determined by Colorado housing costs, which make up a large percentage of the cost of living index.

The costs may also increase for seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia who are being cared for via a special program. Assisted living costs in Colorado are certainly much lower than the cost of a Colorado nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost $83,220 and a private room is almost $98,000 per year.

Assisted Living in Colorado costs more than Adult Day Health Care, which averages around $17,000 per year and Colorado Assisted Living Facilities are actually cheaper than hiring a Home Health Aide which costs, on average, $55,000 a year. It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Colorado will cost $73,000 per year – an increase of around $24,000.

Here is a city by city breakdown of assisted living costs in Colorado:

  • Pueblo, CO - $2,750 per month
  • Greeley, CO - $3,550 per month
  • Grand Junction, CO - $3,795 per month
  • Denver, CO - $4,250 per month
  • Boulder, CO - $4,500 per month
  • Fort Collins, CO - $4,550 per month
  • Colorado Springs, CO - $4,839 per month

Pueblo, Colorado is by far the most affordable city in Colorado when it comes to assisted living - at just $2750 cost per month. Colorado Springs, however, is very costly when it comes to assisted living.

Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Colorado?

In most cases, seniors or their families must pay privately for Colorado Assisted Living care. In some cases it may also be paid for by the Veterans Administration. Seniors living in Colorado may also qualify for either the HCBS Waiver for those who are Elderly, Blind or Disabled or the HCBS Waiver for Community Health Supports. These waivers require that you are eligible for Medicaid (Health First Colorado) which requires the following:

  • You must meet the financial requirements. For one senior 65 or older, your maximum income can’t be greater than $674, and for two people that is $908;
  • Adults without dependent children can’t have a household income that is greater than 133% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Colorado

Colorado is a diverse state geographically with options for almost anyone. In fact, some years ago it was ranked #2 as one of the best places to retire in the nation.

Here are some things to consider when choosing where to retire in Colorado:

• Weather – Colorado is a state where you actually have all four seasons. The summers are sunny but mild and the winters are snowy but not too cold. The fall is dry but beautiful due to the golden aspen trees;

• Rocky Mountains – considered to be one of the world’s premier skiing locations, this state has plenty of mountains. The different resorts offer skiing lessons and trails for seniors and people of all ages and all skill levels;

  • Culture – the city of Boulder alone has 30 art galleries, four museums, and 32 theaters, so if you are a senior who appreciates art - Boulder, CO may be your retirement place.
  • Food – it really is a state that serves everyone. Colorado Springs and Denver alone have about 4,000 restaurants that serve native and foreign cuisine;

• Taxes – Colorado has lower taxes than the national average and imposes no taxes on Social Security and senior pension income up to $20,000 for retirees under 65, or for the first $24,000 for those over the age of 65. There are no inheritance or estate taxes; and

• Well-being – a Gallup poll found that Colorado residents ranked #10 in happiness and feelings of well-being. The state ranks #8 for overall good health, and compared to other states, Coloradans have lower obesity and diabetes rates, as they exercise more often. There are more than 100 hospitals in Colorado and 11 of them are either nationally ranked or considered to meet standards of strong performance;

Weather in Colorado

The climate of Colorado varies due to the variations in elevation and the side of the state. Colorado’s landscape includes mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands and all of these affect the weather. The Eastern Plains of Colorado, which is where the Front Range Urban corridor is located, is semiarid with low humidity and moderate precipitation. It is known for days of sunshine and cool, clear nights. This makes for a wide daily temperature range. During the summer, the high can be above 95° F for many days while the winter lows range from 25° F to –10° F. Such extreme temperature is not easy to tolerate for seniors living in Colorado. 75% of the precipitation that occurs in this area happens between the months of April to September, yet this is also an area that is prone to droughts. The precipitation that occurs in Colorado comes from thunderstorms and from the snowstorms that happen during winter and early spring.

The Front Range Urban Corridor, which is where most residents of Colorado live, is on the lee side of the Rocky Mountains – the lee, or leeward, side being downwind. The Front Range lies in a marked “precipitation shadow” which “means that the mountains block the rain-producing weather systems and cast a ‘shadow’ of dryness behind them”. The cities located in the Front Range that are closer to the mountains are usually warmer in the winter. The average July temperature is 55° F in the morning and 90° F in the afternoon, whereas the average January temperature is 18° F in the morning and 48° F in the afternoon.

West of the plains of Colorado you can expect weather that is ever changing, which depends on the topography of the area. Colorado elderly residents can enjoy summers that are mild and high temperatures that are often between 60° F and 85° F. The winters in Colorado have a tendency to be cooler than those in the Eastern part of the state. Extreme weather is common in Colorado but most of it happens in the least populated parts of Colorado. Hail is a concern for Colorado seniors, and the Eastern plains of Colorado have been subject to some of the worst hail storms in North America. Most of Colorado is a dry state and averages only 17 inches of precipitation per year and the state is usually in a state of drought. This also makes the state vulnerable to wildfires during the summer months - a danger that seniors should be concerned with.

Colorado Demographics

The 22nd most populated state in America and the 8th largest, Colorado has a total area of 104,094 square miles and a population of around 5.5 million people (13% of whom are seniors) – a population density of 52 people for every square mile. Of the 64 counties in Colorado, nine of them have a population over 250,000 each, while there are eight small counties that have a population of less than 2,500. The most densely populated areas are concentrated in the center of the state, around Interstate 25, which is known as the Front Range Urban Corridor.

The metropolitan area of Denver-Aurora-Boulder is the largest in the state with over 3.2 million people, followed by Colorado Springs (approximately 700,000), Fort Collins-Loveland, (over 300,000), Pueblo (approximately 161,000), and Grand Junction (almost 150,000). In one year after the latest census, the population of the Denver-Aurora-Boulder had an increase of over 2%, and an additional increase of 3.75% one year after that.

The top three religious majorities, per recent polling, are: Protestants (44%); Roman Catholics (19%); and Mormons (3%.) By number of adherents the largest is the Roman Catholic Church, non-denominational Evangelical Protestants, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 25% of the population are religiously unaffiliated. English is the primary language in Colorado followed by Spanish.

The racial composition of Colorado is approximately: 81% White (including White Hispanics); 4% Black; 3% Asian; and 1% Native. In recent years, Colorado had the 7th highest percentage of Hispanics in the United States and the 5th largest population of Mexican-Americans. 26% of the population younger than one had at least one parent who identified as a minority.

Financial Well-Being of Seniors Living in Colorado

Colorado imposes a flat state income tax of 4.63% on all seniors' (and everyone else's) taxable income, regardless of their income level. There is also a state sales tax of 2.9% although cities and counties can add to that level. There is an income tax on estates and trusts, yet there is no tax on transfers of property or gifts. Seniors living in Colorado can take advantage of the property taxes in the state, which are some of the lowest in the country at just 0.63%, and there is also a senior tax exemption of 50% of the first $200,000 of the value of your home. However, to qualify for this exemption, seniors must be at least 65 years old and have lived in, and the house have been their primary residence, for 10 years – with exceptions for widows and widowers.

Furthermore, the purchasing power is higher than average in Colorado. For example, what would cost you $98.04 in Colorado is what you would expect to spend $100 on in another state. There has been some controversy on whether the cost of living is higher in Colorado than it is in other states, but this is mainly due to the high housing costs, as costs for utilities and transportation are below the national average.

Places of Interest for Seniors living in Colorado

There are numerous things to do in Colorado, especially in the outdoors. Here are some ideas for things for seniors to do in Colorado:

  • Garden of the Gods – located at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is a National Natural Landmark and there are nature trails, rock climbing, and quite a few different tours that you can take;
  • Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum – located in Durango, Colorado. Seniors can ride a coal-fired, steam-powered train that travels along the same tracks that have been used for over 100 years;
  • Telluride Mountain Village Gondola – located in Telluride, Colorado. This free gondola will take senior citizens between Telluride and Mountain Village;
  • Independence Pass – located in Aspen, Colorado. It’s a drive through experience with hiking and nature trails along the way;
  • Denver Botanical Gardens – located in Denver, Colorado. This Botanical Garden is more than 24-acres of gardens and plants from all over the world. They even have one of the rare “corpse flowers;”
  • Balcony House – located in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. The guided walking tour is for more experienced hikers or at least adventurous ones;
  • Avery House – located in Fort Collins, Colorado. This is the home of Franklin Avery and served as a military post during the Civil War;
  • Annual Flower Trial Garden – located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Take a nice walk or a bike ride through this trail of flowers that is in the middle of the city;
  • Colorado National Monument – located in Fruita, Colorado. Within 23,000 acres of canyons, towers, and naturally arranged rocks you will find Balance Rock, which is a 600-ton boulder on top of a rock pedestal; and
  • National Museum of World War II Aviation – located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. You can either tour the area on your own or go with a museum docent. At WestPac Restoration they are restoring WWII aircraft and there is a separate hanger where there are 15 flyable planes available to view.

Some places to consider for Colorado Senior living:

  • Northglenn, Colorado – located in the counties of Adams and Weld Counties in Colorado, Northglenn is a suburb of Denver with a population of around 40,000. Of those 40,000, an estimated 10% are seniors aged 65 or older. This is a city with a rich cultural heritage and a strong public arts program, Northglenn is home to the D.L. Parsons Theatre, Art on the Parade, and other Cultural Classes for Youth. It has been designated as a “Tree City” 26 different years – most recently last year. Last year, Northglenn ranked #30 of 116 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Colorado,” and #18 of 27 of the “Safest Suburbs in Denver Metro;”
  • Thornton, Colorado – only 10 miles north/northeast of Denver, this is a growing city – the 6th most populous in Colorado. Within the city there are 81 parks for seniors to enjoy and close to 2,000 acres of green space. Additionally, it is home to recreational facilities like the “Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center,” the “Thornton Community Center,” “Thorncreek Golf Course” and “Todd Creek Golf” - helping active seniors to stay entertained. Thornton is a large town, with close to 135,000 people, of whom about 6% are age 65 or older;
  • Fort Lupton, Colorado – located in the northeastern part of Colorado, Fort Lupton’s population was less than 7,000 in the previous census, yet it still has amenities such as “City of Fort Lupton Recreation Center,” “City of Fort Lupton Coyote Creek Golf Course,” and the “City of Fort Lupton Museum.” Fort Lupton has a current population of around 8,000 of which almost 7% are age 65 or older. Last year, Fort Lupton ranked #6 of 115 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Colorado,” #7 of 67 of the “Safest Places to Live in Colorado,” and #50 of 106 of the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado;”
  • Rifle, Colorado – found in the valley of the Colorado River where Rifle Creek joins from the North, the natural scenery in this area is spectacular, with the “Rifle Falls State Park,” “Rifle Mountain Park,” “Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery,” “Harvey Gap State Park,” “Rifle Arch,” “the Roan Plateau” and access to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) including the Hubbard Mesa Open Area. Six miles north is the “Rifle Creek Golf Course” and one week of the year the city has professional rodeos, demolition derby and live music. The population is around 10,000, with approximately 8% age 65 or older;
  • Craig, Colorado – the county seat as well as the most populated municipality inside Moffat County. Home to the “Grande Olde West Days,” “Whittle the Wood Rendezvous,” as well as one of North America’s largest elk gatherings. Craig is considered by many to be the “Elk Hunting Capital of the World.” For seniors who love to hunt - Craig, Colorado may just be the perfect place. The population of Craig is around 9,000 of which almost 10% are age 65 or older;
  • Montrose, Colorado – located in Montrose County, Colorado. The population of Montrose is approximately 20,000 with almost 20% being age 65 or older. Last year, Montrose ranked #1 of 106 of the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado,” and #59 of 116 of the “Best Places to Live in Colorado;”
  • Delta, Colorado – located in, and the county seat and most populous municipality of Delta County, Colorado. The population of Delta was around 8,800 2 years ago, of which 17.5% were 65 years of age of older. Last year, Delta ranked #4 of 106 of the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado,” #28 of 67 of the “Safest Places to Live in Colorado,” and #41 of 116 of the “Most Diverse Places to Live in Colorado;”
  • Estes Park, Colorado – located in Larimer County, Colorado where Estes Park is a popular summer resort as well as the headquarters for the Rocky Mountain National Park. The population is around 6,250 of which an estimated 20% are seniors 65 years of age or older. Last year, Estes Park ranked #8 of 106 as the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado;”
  • Loveland, Colorado – the second most populous city in Larimer County, Colorado and part of the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Front Range Urban Corridor. The estimated population in the last census was 75,000 of whom 12.5% are seniors 65 years of age or older. Last year, Loveland ranked #24 out of 106 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Colorado,” #34 of 106 of the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado,” and #36 of 67 “Safest Places to Live in Colorado;” and
  • Orchard Mesa, Colorado – located in Mesa County, the population of Orchard Mesa is approximately 7,000 with around 12% senior citizens age 65 or older. Last year, Orchard Mesa ranked #5 of 106 of the “Best Places to Retire in Colorado.”

SeniorGuidance.org provides comprehensive resources on various senior living options, including: assisted living facilities, senior living communities, nursing homes, independent living communities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and all other long term senior care options, including memory care such as Alzheimer's or Dementia.

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