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?
650 assisted living facilities in Colorado
Colorado 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):
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:
The financial requirements of the CMHS Waiver are:
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, 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.
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:
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;
• 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;
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.
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.
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.
There are numerous things to do in Colorado, especially in the outdoors. Here are some ideas for things for seniors to do 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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