Colorado Assisted Living


Colorado Assisted Living: : Search Near You, How to Pay, Licensing, Local Resources, and Questions to Ask

Long term care services and support in the state of Colorado continues to be ranked among the best in the nation. There are more than 500 licensed Assisted Living Residences that range in size from three beds to 200+ beds. Some are available for private pay, and others (called Alternative Care Facilities) for Medicaid-paid residents. Assisted Living provides protective oversight, personal services, social care needed because of impaired capacity to live independently, and regular supervision on a 24-hour basis.

Common terms that differentiate levels and types of senior living: 

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)- typically include independent living, assisted living, residential care and skilled nursing services all on one campus.  
  • Independent Living Communities – provide residents a setting without the burden of home ownership. Residents commonly live in fully equipped private apartments or cottages from a studio to large two-bedroom units.  
  • Care Home or Adult Family Care Home- are private residences in a home-like setting that provide care services to a smaller more limited number of residents (typically 5-12 residents, depending on each state’s regulations). 
  • Assisted Living- provides housing and supportive care in a community setting, but the residents do not require 24-hour nursing care. 
  • Memory Care- a care setting for residents with memory loss or confusion. The community typically has a “secured” entry for residents that may wander. This care can be provided in different care settings depending on the state licensing requirements. 
  • Skilled Nursing is state licensed to provide a safe, therapeutic environment for people who require rehabilitative care 24 hours a day.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living refers to a level of care that typically includes room and board, assistance with activities of daily living (such as dressing, bathing, laundry, etc.), medication management, and recreational activities. Some of the benefits of living in an assisted living community are that residents have opportunities to socialize, take classes, and engage in health or fitness programs designed specifically for seniors. In Colorado, licensed medical staff at assisted living facilities are routinely on-site, but are not required to be present at all times.

Licensing in Colorado

Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment maintains the licensure for Assisted Living Residences. Upon request, they can provide consumers with facility files, survey results, summaries of reported occurrences and complaint investigations, and information on filing health care complaints.

Licensing and Regulations

Staffing: Staff are licensed and regulated. Regulations are in place to direct the amount of staff required to care for residents.

Documentation: Strict records are maintained for resident care plans, medication assistance if applicable, and any change of condition. In addition, all staff certifications, licenses and additional training are also documented.

Meal services: Typically, one to three meals are provided daily on a schedule basis. Menus must be available to all residents and sometimes need to be available up to one week in advance (state requirements may vary).

Scheduling: The schedule of most care and services should be reliable and predictable.

Grievances: There should be a plan in place for families to voice any grievances or complaints. Communities may have a resident council and family council.

Evacuation procedure:

  • In an emergency, a chain of command is initiated. All staff on duty will begin emergency protocols. Members of staff will ensure all residents are out of the units/building while other staff collect all medications and records.
  • States differ on the specific requirements for evacuation, level of ambulation and transfer ability needed for each resident.

Who licenses and regulates these care communities?

In the United States, one or more state agencies regulate and oversee assisted living communities. Often, the regulating agency is the Department of Health and Human Services. Licensure and certification bureaus oversee the licensing of these communities.

For example:

  • New York: The New York Department of Health licenses and supervises adult care communities.
  • Nevada: The Bureau of Licensure and Certification license medical and other health facilities.
  • Oregon: The Oregon Department of Human Services, Office of Licensing and Regulatory Oversight licenses assisted living communities.

How to File a complaint – All residents have the right to voice grievances to leadership, agencies or other entities that hear grievances – all without discrimination or reprisal.  Grievances may include a situations regarding staff behavior or other residents.

Requirements of Community policy regarding grievances:

  • Communities must make information on how to file grievances available to residents.
  • There must be a grievance policy in place.
  • Contact information for grievance officials with whom a grievance can be filed must be made available to all residents. 

Each state has their own specific laws and regulations regarding assisted living, memory care, care homes and other senior care communities.

What is the cost of assisted living in Colorado?

On average, the monthly cost of residing in an Assisted Living Facility in Colorado is about $4,000. These costs can vary significantly between different regions of Colorado – the lowest average in the state is in Grand Junction at $3,350, while Boulder’s average monthly cost is the most expensive in the state exceeds $5,000.

Paying for Assisted Living

You want to consider your payment options for assisted living, memory care, and care homes. For these services, Medicare is NOT an option for payment.

The most common payment for these services would be out of pocket Private Pay and assessing a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.

Medicaid can also be an option, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

Long-Term Care insurance is also a possible option in cases of chronic conditions, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

For our Veterans and spouses of veterans, be sure to assess Veteran Aid and your eligibility for these benefits.

Medicare – NO:

  • Medicare does NOT pay for Assisted Living.
  • People 65 years and older and individuals with end stage renal disease are eligible for Medicare benefits, no matter their income.
  • Coverage is meant for people in need of short-term care.

Private pay – YES:

  • Many families pay for assisted living with private funds.
  • Private pay can be a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.
  • Family members may contribute funds to pay for assisted living or other senior housing and care.

Medicaid – MAYBE:

  • Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans. Eligible participants include: low-income adults, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid is administered by state, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by each state and the federal government.
  • Every state has their own individual Medicaid assistance program.
  • National guidelines are in place do decipher how states must spend Medicaid money, but with allowances toward the guidelines.
  • The state determines what levels of care will be covered by Medicaid, who is eligible, and how much the state will reimburse the care community.
  • If you are unsure whether you qualify for Medicaid, you should apply. You may be eligible depending on your household income, family size, age, disability and other factors.

Long-term Care Insurance – MAYBE:

Long term care insurance is a great way to pay for assisted living, and planning ahead is important when considering how to pay for senior housing and care. Nearly 75% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care and services at some point. Buying into long-term care insurance when a person is in their 50s and 60s is the most common time to do so.

  • Long-term care insurance helps cover the costs of chronic medical conditions.
  • Individuals and couples with the ability to pay into long-term care insurance have the advantage of a head start in allocating funds for senior care.

Veteran Aid and Assistance – MAYBE:

This benefit is available to some military veterans and surviving spouses who live in an assisted living community and those who have in-home care.

  • There are specific guidelines, but a veteran may qualify for as much as $2,050 each month.
  • A veteran with a sick spouse may be eligible for $1,600 per month.
  • If a veteran has passed, their surviving spouse can qualify for $1,300 per month.

Questions to consider when choosing an assisted living community

  • Does this residence meet all of the criteria for caring for my needs?
  • Would the facility be able to meet my needs should my needed level of care increase?
  • Is this residence within my budget, or am I eligible for available waivers or financial assistance?
  • Are the bedrooms and bathrooms private or shared?
  • Am I or my family involved in my care planning process? How about my doctor?
  • Does the facility provide all of the personal services I expect to need help with?

Questions to Ask

Finding an assisted living community can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on things to be observant of:

  • Make sure the facility is clean and well maintained. You can tell a lot about the operation by noting what is clean and maintained. Are doorknobs loose or damaged? Do you see any frayed carpet or trip hazards?
  • Visit during lunch hour to observe what the residents are eating. Ask questions about the nutrition program. Is there diversity in meals, healthy fruits and vegetables served at all meals, drink options?
  • Speak to residents and/or family members to learn their perspective.
  • Ask about staff and resident engagement. Get a feel for how staff interact with residents.
  • Ask about the life enrichment programs. Activities are crucial when it comes to quality of life and play a key role in care for older adults.
  • And finally (along with a plethora of more things to consider), get to know the leadership in the building. If you feel good around the Executive Director, Head Nurse, Lead Activities Director and even the Chef or Janitor, it is a good sign you can trust them with the care of your loved one.

Area Agency on Aging  Boulder County offers services to adults 60 and over and their adult caregivers. They also provide assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and residents of any age who live in a long-term care facility. Provides information, referral, and options counseling to anyone 18 or older with a disability as well as to older adults through the Aging and Disability Resource for Colorado program. Legal assistance is offered via one of our contractors, not directly.

Denver Regional Council of Governments Provides information and assistance for people 60 and older or 18-plus with a disability, their families, and service providers. Referrals to local resources and services.

Larimer County Office on Aging The Larimer County Office on Aging LCOA provides Information and Referral through the ADRC, Title III services including In Home Services Voucher, Chore Voucher, Respite Voucher, application assistance and options counseling. Additional services include grant management and long term care ombudsman program community education and key member of the Partnership for Age Friendly Communities in Larimer County.

Park County Department of Human Services Adult Protection Services (APS) are provided to at-risk adults age 18 and older who, due to age or disability, are unable to protect themselves and have no one to advocate on their behalf. The Adult Protection program responds to reports of Abuse (physical or sexual), Neglect (caregiver or self), and Financial Exploitation.

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments PPACG serves as the Area Agency on Aging for Colorado Springs and provides programs and services for older adults and their caregivers. A person must be 60 years of age or older to be eligible for a service provided by the Older Americans Act (OAA).

Disability Law Colorado offers legal representation, information and referrals to people with disabilities, older people, and their families.

Eldercare Locator This is a great resource to search for specific care in specific counties and cities. This database is a nationwide resource that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. Connect with services such as meals, home care or transportation, or a caregiver education or respite from caregiving responsibilities. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Medicare provides a search feature to find & compare providers near you, most senior housing and care providers are included on Find & compare plans in your area. Determine if you qualify for premium savings

Medicaid offers information on how to apply for Medicaid, eligibility criteria, links to local state offices, and additional resources

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone with the disease, information and resources are available.

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Written by The Care Availability Team
Experts in the senior care & retirement living industries

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