Colorado has much to offer seniors in assisted living. There are plenty of natural wonders and cultural destinations to explore, along with volunteer programs for seniors who want to help their community. Approximately 14.6% of the total Colorado population is age 65 and over, and that number is expected to rise. By 2030, it’s estimated that seniors 65 and over will comprise approximately 18.3% of the total Colorado population. Many may choose to make the move to assisted living at some point. In Colorado, the average cost for assisted living is $4,750 per month. Older adults can take advantage of the substantial tax deduction on retirement income in Colorado, which means more money to pay for assisted living care.

Seniors will be happy to know that there are highly rated hospitals in the state: The UC Health University of Colorado Hospital is ranked one of the nation’s best. In addition, Colorado is also home to SCL Health — a health care organization that provides specialized senior services. SCL Health has multiple locations, such as the senior emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center

This guide contains and compares cost information for residential assisted living communities in Colorado. There’s information about financial assistance to help pay for assisted living and details regarding facility regulations. Also in this guide are free resources for seniors that include state offices and nonprofit organizations.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Colorado

Colorado has an average monthly assisted living cost of $4,750 as reported by the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey. The national average is $4,500, while the costs in neighboring states vary. Kansas has an average monthly assisted living price of $4,580, and New Mexico’s is slightly lower at $4,498. Wyoming’s average monthly cost for assisted living is $4,169, while Nebraska’s is $4,076. The least expensive state near Colorado is Utah, where assisted living monthly costs average $3,500.

$4750

Colorado

$4500

The United States

$3500

Utah

$4169

Wyoming

$4076

Nebraska

$4580

Kansas

$4498

New Mexico

The cost of assisted living in Colorado’s cities also varies. Some are more than both the Colorado state and national averages, such as Denver’s average monthly fee of $5,500 and Boulder’s average monthly assisted living cost of $6,275. Colorado Springs is close to the state and national average at $4,663, as is Greeley at $4,400. Grand Junction has a slightly lower monthly assisted living cost of $4,250, while Fort Collins is even more affordable at $4,000 per month.

$3800

Pueblo

$4663

Colorado Springs

$5500

Denver

$4000

Fort Collins

$4400

Greeley

$6275

Boulder

$4250

Grand Junction

There are other care types for Colorado seniors to choose from besides assisted living. Adult day health care is the least expensive at about $1,950 per month. Home care and home health care both average $6,387 per month, while nursing homes are substantially higher. For a semiprivate room, fees average around $8,567 per month. A private room in a nursing home facility costs approximately $9,726.

$1950

Adult Day Health Care

$4750

Assisted Living

$6387

Home Care

$6387

Home Health Care

$8567

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

$9726

Nursing Home Care (private room)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Colorado?

Health First Colorado is the state’s Medicaid program, and it does cover the cost of certified assisted living communities called Alternative Care Facilities (ACFs) for seniors enrolled in the Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver (EBD) or the Community Mental Health Supports Waiver (CMHS). ACFs assist with activities of daily living (ADLs) in a residential setting with 24-hour supervision.

What Assisted Living Services are Covered by Medicaid in Colorado?

Colorado Medicaid covers certain costs of Alternative Care Facilities (ACFs), which provide an array of services for seniors in a supervised residential setting. Care is based on each resident’s needs and level of independence. Services include:

  • Bathing and dressing assistance
  • Mobility assistance
  • Housekeeping
  • Medication management
  • Transportation

The EBD Waiver provides seniors with all Health First Colorado services. In addition, the waiver provides senior-specific services that include personal care, transition services for seniors moving from their home to an ACF, and peer mentorship. Long-term hospital and nursing facility costs are not covered. Seniors must pay their room and board costs, and they may also have to share in certain care costs and services. The CMHS Waiver covers many of the same services. Like the EBD Waiver, long-term hospital and nursing facility care are excluded from coverage.

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Colorado

Elderly, Blind, and Disabled Waiver (EBD)

In order to qualify for the EBD Waiver, seniors must receive Colorado Health First Benefits. Age, income, disability and citizenship status factor into eligibility. Income caps are as follows:

  • Income must be less than 300% of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limits
  • Single seniors cannot have more than $2,000 in resources
  • Couples cannot have more than $3,000 in resources

Through the Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working Adults with Disabilities, seniors may still qualify for the EBD Waiver.

Services covered under this waiver include but aren’t limited to:

  • Transportation
  • Personal care
  • Medication assistance
  • Housekeeping

In addition, EBD recipients receive all Health First Colorado services other than long-term nursing facility or hospital care. Some of these services include:

  • Primary physician visits
  • Specialist visits
  • Emergency room visits
  • Ambulance visits
  • Dental care

To sign up for the EBD Waiver, seniors must be enrolled in Colorado Health First and contact their respective Single Entry Point (SEP) or Member Contact Center. Applications for Colorado Health First can be completed online, by mail, in person or by phone at (800) 221-3943.

Community Mental Health Supports Waiver (CMHS)

Seniors must meet eligibility and level-of-care requirements to qualify for the CMHS Waiver. Applicants must have a mental health condition that interferes with their ability to perform activities of daily living. Developmental and intellectual disorders are not applicable, nor is substance abuse disorder without an additional mental disorder present.

Applicants must require long-term care that’s comparable to nursing facility services and meet the same financial requirements as for the EBD Waiver, which are as follows:

  • Income must not exceed 300% of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limits
  • Single seniors must not have resources exceeding $2,000
  • Couples must not have resources exceeding $3,000

Seniors with income in excess of these amounts may still qualify for the CMHS Waiver through the Colorado Medicaid Buy-In Program.

The CMHS Waiver adds to Colorado Health First Services such as doctor visits, specialist visits, emergency room visits and dental care. In addition, the following are added:

  • Adult day services
  • Nutritional services
  • Homemaking services
  • Life skills training
  • Mentorship services
  • Personal care

To enroll in the CMHS Waiver, seniors must already be enrolled in Health First. If not enrolled in Health First, individuals can complete applications online, by mail, in person or by phone.

Seniors enrolled in Health First who want to also enroll in the CMHS Waiver can contact their applicable Member Contact Center or Single Entry Point (SEP) to apply.

How to Know if You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Colorado

Health First Colorado is the state’s Medicaid program operated under the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Colorado Medicaid has eligibility requirements including age, disability status, citizenship, income and resources. General requirements state the seniors must:

  • Be aged 65 or older
  • Be disabled and/or blind
  • Not exceed income and resource limits
  • Be a citizen of the United States or a legal alien

2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Colorado

 

Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$18,075

$2,000

Two-Person Household

(Only One Person Applying)

$24,353

$3,000 

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$24,353

$3,000

*Per year

As noted, income requirements for additional programs, such as the EBD and CMHS Waivers, are based on SSI benefits. For both programs, household income cannot exceed 300% of 2022 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limits for household size. For singles, that’s $10,092.40 and for couples, the SSI income limit is $15,136.93.

How to Apply for Medicaid in Colorado

Applications for Colorado Medicaid can be submitted online through the PEAK website. Seniors can also download and print a paper application, which can be mailed or submitted at an application assistance site or county Medicaid office. Applications can also be taken to these locations between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Seniors can also apply by phone by calling state relay 711 or (800) 221-3943.

Information You Will Need

In order to apply for Colorado Health First, seniors must submit appropriate verifications. Required documents include:

  • Social Security cards for citizens
  • Immigration documentation for noncitizens
  • Identification showing name, address and birthdate
  • Contact information 
  • Documentation of all household income
  • Health insurance policy documentation (including Medicare) for household members

How to Get Help Applying for Medicaid

There is help available for Colorado residents who need assistance applying for Medicaid. Seniors can contact local government offices as shown in the table below to get help with their application. In addition, local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) can provide assistance with benefit applications for Medicaid and waiver programs.

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

(303) 866-5700

Through the Colorado Department of Human Services, seniors can get help applying for Colorado Medicaid. On the DHS website, there’s a clickable map that directs visitors to the appropriate county office and its contact information.

(800) 221-3943

Seniors can apply for Medicaid through the Colorado PEAK website, and there’s plenty of helpful online information. Live chat is available to assist with the application process, or applicants can receive assistance by phone during normal business hours.  

(303) 866-2800

This state division can refer seniors to their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Through this division or their local AAA, seniors can receive help with Medicaid applications and other issues related to assisted living. 

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Colorado?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Colorado. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Colorado.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Colorado

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.

 

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Assisted Living.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Assisted Living. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Assisted Living. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Assisted Living will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Colorado

Colorado seniors in assisted living can access multiple free services and resources, some of which are through nonprofit organizations. Others are government programs that may help with advocacy, legal services, financial assistance, referrals and other senior-specific services.

Resource 

Contact 

Service 

211 

or

(866) 760-6489 

or

Text zip code to 898-211*

A wealth of resources for seniors and caregivers is available at 2-1-1 Colorado. Seniors can access services and assistance online, by phone or by text. There are long-term care resources, adult protective services, transportation programs and referrals to other senior-focused agencies.

(844) 265-2372

This state-led agency helps seniors plan for long-term care. It also provides counseling services, assistance and information for seniors in assisted living or those considering a transition from home to assisted living.

(303) 866-2800

This state division lists all the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) locations, where seniors can receive many services. Nutritional services, long-term care planning, referrals, transportation and other resources are available.

(844) 265-2372

Seniors can contact their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) through the Colorado Division of Aging and Adult Services to speak with a legal assistance representative. Through these legal services, seniors can get help protecting and understanding their rights and obtaining legal counsel and representation.

(800) 698-2411

Senior veterans can find their local VA office through the Colorado Veterans’ Affairs Offices and Facilities department. Veterans’ affairs offices can help with benefits and claims, counseling, referrals and employment. 

(800) 772-1213 

The Social Security Administration website has many resources and information that may be helpful to seniors in assisted living. Older adults can manage their benefits through this site, and they can read informative articles on an array of subjects, including finances and health.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Colorado

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including covid19.colorado.gov. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 4/22/22, 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.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Colorado Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Outings & Social Activities

Rules for Colorado Communities

Are residents allowed to leave (errands, visiting family, etc.) for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents who leave required to quarantine when they return?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living communities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents allowed to eat meals together in a common area?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are residents allowed to gather in common areas for group activites?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

Rules for Colorado Communities

Are staff members regularly required to do a temperature check?

Yes

Are staff members regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes

Are staff members members regularly required to do a health and safety screening, including questions about travel, contact with positive cases, etc?

Yes

Are residents regularly screened for COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes

Are residents regularly checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are residents regularly tested for COVID-19?

Yes

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulates all assisted living facilities in the state. All assisted living residences must comply with the regulations set forth by this department to remain in operation. Both scheduled and unscheduled checks are performed to verify facility compliance.

COLORADO LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements 

Prior to resident admission, Colorado assisted living residences must perform a stringent evaluation of every potential resident’s care needs. This includes their level of independence and types of care needed. Evaluations also factor in the social, cultural and religious needs of each resident before admission. This evaluation helps determine whether the facility in question can meet the potential resident’s care needs.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements 

Certain admission requirements must be met, including a signed resident agreement. Residents must not require 24-hour medical care or have unmanageable illnesses, incontinence, stage 3 or 4 pressure sores or any of the other excluding criteria in section 11 of the Code of Colorado Regulations document.

Assisted Living Scope of Care 

Assisted living residences help residents with activities of daily living (ADLs). Toileting, bathing and dressing are three examples; housekeeping and transportation are two more types of care provided.  

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy 

Colorado’s Health First program covers costs associated with certified assisted living communities. Activities of daily living are covered, but seniors must cover room and board and may have to contribute to other costs. Waivers such as the Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver can be implemented to assist with assisted living costs not covered by Health First.  

Assisted Living Facility Requirements 

There are a number of facility requirements Colorado assisted living residences must meet. Exterior areas must be well-maintained and stairs lit after dark. There can be no more than two residents per room for facilities licensed after July 1, 1986. Facilities must have a minimum of one full bathroom per six residents. Full bathrooms must contain a toilet, sink, shower, mirror and toiletry storage area. Tubs and showers must be equipped with grab bars.

Medication Management Regulations 

Assisted living residences can only allow authorized nurses, practitioners, certified nurse medication aides (CNA-Meds) or a qualified medication administration person (QMAP) to administer resident medications. Residents must be capable of consenting and taking medication in order for CNA-Meds or QMAP professionals to provide medication assistance.   

Staffing Requirements 

Colorado assisted living facilities must have at least one staff member on-site at all times who is currently CPR-certified. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., staff must conduct a resident safety check. Staffing levels must be sufficient enough to respond to routine and emergency resident needs.

Staff Training Requirements 

Colorado ALRs are required to have a policy and procedure for all staff. Information on responding to altercations and missing residents must be included. Staff training includes information on the facility, where residents are allowed and restricted, the mobility ability of each resident, the location of the storage area and its contents. Security devices and override procedures are also covered through staff training. Each staff member is trained on care provisions for each resident, and staff training must be recorded.

Background Checks for Assisted Living 

Assisted living residences must conduct a criminal background check if it is determined or indicated that a staff member, administrator or volunteer could risk the well-being, safety and/or health of facility residents. Pre-employment background checks are not legally required but can be performed as part of the hiring process if desired by the facility administrator.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse 

If resident abuse is suspected or confirmed, it must be reported to the facility administrator and the local Department of Social Services within 24 hours of the allegation.