Senior Resources in Colorado
Finding affordable, quality senior care can be a challenge. It’s common for families to need help during their search. Fortunately, there are dozens of federal, state, and local resources designed to connect families care services in their community. This guide covers the many senior resources available in Colorado including financial assistance with long-term care, health insurance, free legal services, caregiver support, fitness classes, meal programs, and more.
Colorado senior care options
Home care services
Aging can make daily tasks more difficult, but many seniors disregard the idea of long-term care believing the only option in an assisted living facility or nursing home. In these case, home care services may be the best solution to help seniors keep up with their needs. In-home assistants can help seniors with their activities of daily living (ADLs), making it possible for them to age-in-place and avoid institutionalization.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL)
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is a federally-operated resource for seniors nationwide. Nursing homes are running out of vacancies more quickly than they can restore them and the ACL wants to make home-based care more accessible to combat the problem. Through their efforts, the ACL hopes to educate the public about aging-in-place, making it a more common choice for elderly adults. They operate numerous programs throughout the country to assist seniors with aging-in-place and they regularly start new programs to expand their services.
The National Age In Place Council (NAPC)
The National Age in Place Council (NAPC) may be helpful to seniors and caregivers, thanks to the organization’s free resources. Their website features a convenient template for seniors to create a long-term care plan, where they can outline their needs and concerns on paper. Seniors can also access various informational guides, written to educate them about their options for home-based care.
Like personal assistants, companions help seniors with their day-to-day life. They offer help with basic tasks like cooking and cleaning, assist with errands, and provide conversation. Colorado does not have a statewide companion program for seniors, but communities typically have their own services for local residents. Seniors should contact their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn more about which companionship services are available in their community.
Senior centers are located in nearly every one of Colorado’s communities. Senior centers are public locations where elderly adults can socialize and participate in community events. Fitness programs, arts and crafts, live music, and computer classes are among the many services seniors centers offer. Most senior centers offer their services for free, however, specific events that take place at senior centers may have admission fees. Some locations offer free transportation services to help seniors get to and from the facility. To learn more, locate the nearest Colorado senior center and contact them for more information about their hours and their events.
Respite care services
Caregiving is an important job, but it can be challenging. Especially for family caregivers, who have to juggle caregiving with their other responsibilities. Temporary breaks are important for caregivers so they can avoid feeling “locked in” to their duties. Respite care services can offer that break by connecting families with temporary caregivers to step in while the person’s primary caregiver is away. Fortunately, there are a handful of organizations in Colorado that connect families with respite care services in their community.
Colorado Respite Coalition (CRC)
The Colorado Respite Coalition (CRC) is a group of families coming together to create more easily accessible respite care through volunteer efforts. The CRC helps families connect with respite care services in the state and provides education about respite care to the public. Through their efforts, the CRC hopes to establish more options for respite care throughout Colorado, so family caregivers can take important temporary breaks when they need to. Caregivers who want to learn more about the CRC should visit the program’s website, which outlines their mission, their partners, and the ways they intend to achieve their goals.
ARCH Resource Center
The ARCH Resource Center is a practical tool for caregivers to connect with respite services. Caregivers can use ARCH to find respite care providers in their community and learn more about the importance of taking temporary breaks. Family caregivers should visit ARCH’s website to access their free resources and learn more about their organization.
Educated caregivers play an important role in senior care throughout the nation. Many seniors rely on family caregivers and it’s common for a caregiver’s duties to weigh on them over time. Fortunately, there are many easily-accessible resources for family caregivers in Colorado, including free respite care and training.
Family and Caregiver Support Program (FCSP)
Colorado does not have a state family and caregiver support program, but state residents can access the National Family and Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) to receive comparable benefits. The NFCSP helps caregivers connect with resources in their community and provides free caregiver training and counseling. Additionally, the NFCSP offers free respite care services to families in need. Family caregivers should call (303) 866-2800 to learn more about ways the NFCSP can assist.
Caregiver Action Network
The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) offers support to caregivers through various online resources. The CAN’s website boasts a community forum where caregivers can talk about their concerns or assist others. The Family Caregiver Toolbox is another useful resource, providing an assortment of helpful caregiving guides and informational articles.
National Alliance of Caregiving
The National Alliance of Caregiving also offers valuable information for caregivers. Their comprehensive collection of free resources cover a range of topics about caregiving and is accessible to anyone nationwide.
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross’s website hosts information about the organization’s free resources for caregivers, including courses in CPR and first aid. Each of the Red Cross’s courses can be administered online or in-person, making them easily accessible everywhere in the country. Local chapters of the Red Cross can offer more information about their free caregiver and first-aid courses and can provide dates for upcoming events.
Hospice and palliative care
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) offers free resources to U.S. citizens who are nearing the end of their life. They offer free and low-cost hospice care to Americans in need and counseling to families facing a loved one with a terminal illness. The organization also offers informational webinars, free online classes, and dozens of informative articles about hospice and palliative care.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
Anyone who is impacted by Alzheimer’s may use the AA’s resources. Their 24-hour helpline — accessible at 1(800) 272-3900 — is a popular source of information for caregivers, where they may call to receive assistance with their questions. The AA also offers adult day care services to anyone impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, where they are supervised by specially trained staff. Caregivers may visit the AA’s website to learn which of the organization’s services are available near them, or they may call their local chapter of the AA for more information.
National care resources
Many senior care resources are administered on a state level, however, others are operated nationally. These resources are not only available to Colorado residents, but to seniors throughout the country.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers a handful of benefits to adults over 55. Most of AARP’s benefits are member-exclusive, however, their online informational articles are accessible to anyone in the U.S. for free.
Retirement is not necessary for someone to be an AARP member. The program is available to all Americans over the age of 55, regardless of their working status. Membership is not free and members must pay an annual fee. However, members receive exclusive benefits (like free health care services and discounts at certain stores and restaurants) which are not available to non-members.
The Eldercare Locator lets seniors search for care providers in their community. Because the tool is a database of care providers nationwide, seniors anywhere in the country may use it to find help in their community. The Eldercare Locator is free and accessible to anyone who needs it.
Nutrition and wellness
A person’s nutritional needs may change as they age. As preparing meals
Congregate dining centers
Congregate dining centers are located throughout Adams, Arapahoe, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Larimer counties. Anyone over the age of 60 years may attend a congregate meal where they can enjoy nutritious, filling food in exchange for a small donation. Because congregate meals are sponsored by Colorado branch of Volunteers for America, seniors are asked to contribute $2.50 if they participate in a meal. However, the organization will not deny someone because they are unable to contribute.
Colorado residents living in eligible counties should call (303) 297-0408 for more information about congregate dining centers and meal times in their area.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a statewide public benefit for Coloradans in need. SNAP distributes food stamps to low-income residents who need assistance paying for their groceries. Like Medicaid, SNAP requires seniors to meet certain financial criteria before they may receive benefits. The benefit amount a person receives depends on their income and the size of their household — In other words, a large family who lives below the federal poverty level (FPL) may qualify for more food stamps than an individual living above the FPL.
Seniors can use food stamps at most grocery stores, however, the ways they may spend them are limited. For example, SNAP recipients may not use food stamps to pay for non-food items or hot/prepared food. To learn more about SNAP, seniors should contact (303) 866-5106.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program sponsored by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program funds nutritional programs at adult day care centers throughout the US to help seniors access healthy meals. Because of this funding, seniors and disabled adults can visit an adult day care center in their community and receive a free or low-cost meal equivalent to ⅓ of their daily nutritional needs.
Fitness and recreation
The Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) offers several programs for seniors to socialize and get active. Each of the CHA’s recreational programs targets a specific area of fitness, like walking or weight-lifting. These programs include:
- Active Choices
- Active Living Every Day
- Fit and Strong
- Healthy Moves for Aging Well
- Walk With Ease
Seniors should contact the program manager of the programs they’re most interested in or call the CHA at (571) 527-3900 for more information.
Enrolling in Medicare can be challenging and complex. It’s common for seniors new to Medicare to need help taking the first steps. Fortunately for seniors in Colorado, the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is around to help them during the process. Seniors can contact a SHIP counselor to get free assistance enrolling in Medicare. They can ask questions about the process, their coverage, and their fees during their counseling session. Each counselor works as a volunteer and all of
Each year, Medicare provides health care coverage to 55 million Americans. Medicare qualifies as a public health insurance program, but it is not free to enroll. Policyholders are typically responsible for monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments, depending on their income and plan. The more services a plan covers, the more costly it will be. Low-income seniors can apply for Medicaid and use their benefits to pay for their Medicare, making coverage more affordable.
Medicare Part A
Part A offers hospital insurance to beneficiaries and steps in when someone needs inpatient care at a skilled nursing facility or health care in their own home. Most Part A policy-holders are subject to copayments and deductibles, but many do not pay premiums for their coverage.
Medicare Part B
The second policy type offers medical insurance and pays for durable medical equipment, visits to the physician, outpatient hospital services, and other medical services not covered by Medicare Part A. A Part B policy-holder will typically be charged a monthly premium for their plan as well as copayments and deductibles for the medical services they receive.
Medicare Part C
Also known as, Medicare Advantage, Part C operates differently than Parts A and B. Medicare Advantage allows Medicare policyholders to receive coverage from private healthcare insurance providers, which may allow seniors to receive services for a lower copayment than an Original Medicare Plan. Those enrolled in Part C may receive all of the benefits offered in Parts A and B, in addition to extra benefits unavailable through the other two plans, including prescription coverage.
Medicare Part D
The last policy type offers prescription coverage to anyone with Medicare. Policyholders who enroll in Medicare Part D to pay for their medications must pay an additional premium to receive the benefits. As a result, they may obtain their prescription medications at a low cost.
Medicaid (Health First Colorado)
Medicaid can provide supplementary benefits to Medicare for seniors in need. Depending on a person’s plan, Medicare may not cover enough services. Additional benefits from Medicaid can help fill in the gaps.
To be eligible for Medicaid, a person must qualify as low-income. Medicaid uses a person’s income and assets to determine their financial eligibility. Certain goods and services (like long-term care or durable medical equipment) are subject to additional requirements for a person to receive coverage. For example, a person must clinically require personal assistance for Medicaid to provide coverage.
Medicare enrollment is not a prerequisite for Medicaid coverage. Medicaid is available to anyone who meets the program’s financial requirements. Seniors should contact Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) at 1 (800) 221-3943 for more information about eligibility, benefits, and the application process.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers various benefits to qualifying seniors who served in the military. A person’s discharge, disability status, and service period may affect their eligibility for assistance. For example, veterans living with a service-connected disability may qualify for priority benefits.
Aid and Attendance
The Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit is a pension for veterans who require assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs). Like the VA’s standard pension, A&A is distributed monthly as one lump sum. Veterans who receive monthly pension may automatically qualify for A&A once they require daily assistance; non-recipients must apply for the A&A benefit through the VA. Additionally, veterans residing in nursing homes automatically qualify.
To learn more about A&A, veterans should contact their VA caseworker. The VA offers information on their website about the benefit, however, caseworkers can give help tailored to the veteran’s needs.
VA health care programs
The Standard Medical Benefits Package (SMBP) is the VA’s primary health care plan for veterans. Veterans who were discharged for any reason other than “dishonorably” can enroll in the SMBP, regardless of their income. A service-connected disability is not required for coverage.
Before providing coverage, the VA assesses all enrollees to determine their income and disability status. Using the assessment, the VA decides the enrollee’s copayment amount. Low-income veterans and veterans living with service-related disabilities may have their copays waived for health and long-term care services.
The SMBP covers long-term care services and community-based care for veterans who clinically require it. Eligible services include adult day care, respite care, and home health care, among others. Veterans living with service-connected disabilities can receive prioritized coverage and additional benefits to make paying for long-term care easier.
Unfortunately, the VA will not pay for a person’s room and board fees, regardless of their income or disability status. This includes basic services included in a resident’s room and board, like meals or personal assistance. The VA will only pay for goods and services which are not included in a facility’s room and board, like physical therapy or durable medical equipment.
Qualifying individuals may receive free legal assistance from nonprofit organizations in Colorado. Estate planning, will preparation, and representation in court are among dozens of services seniors can access at no cost. Most services are distributed locally, seniors should contact their county’s AAA to learn which resources are available in their community.
Metro Volunteer Lawyer Program (MVL)
Volunteer lawyers help seniors with their legal needs without charging fees. Most volunteer lawyer programs in Colorado are open to residents of any age, provided they meet the eligibility requirements. For example, the Denver Bar Association sponsors the Metro Volunteer Lawyers (MVL) program, serving low-income residents of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, and Jefferson counties.
Like most volunteer lawyer programs, MVL is first-come, first-served for eligible clients. All applicants are required to participate in the CLS intake interview before they can submit their application. Applicants can call Colorado Legal Services (CLS) at (303) 837-1313 to do their interview.
Senior Citizens Law Center (SCLC)
The Senior Citizens Law Centers (SCLC) is a nonprofit organization offering free legal advice and representation to seniors in Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, and Jefferson counties. Unlike most volunteer lawyer programs in Colorado, the SCLC does not have income eligibility requirements for anyone over the age of 60 years.
With help from the SCLC, seniors can get representation in court, prepare legal documents, negotiate with opposing parties, complete forms, and get general advice for their case. The SCLC’s lawyers can assist with debt relief, reverse mortgages, foreclosures, bankruptcy, public benefits disputes, landlord-tenant contentions, and predatory lending, among other areas of law. Additionally, the SCLC offers ID assistance for seniors to help them obtain state identification documents (like birth certificates and driver’s licenses), which they need to apply to public benefits programs.
Seniors should contact the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) AAA at 303-837-1313 to learn more about the SCLC.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Long-term care residents are entitled to certain rights during their stay. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Program serves to protect these rights and promote the health, safety, and well-being of institutionalized adults. The LTCO accepts complaints from long-term care residents and works in coordination with Adult Protective Services (APS) and local law enforcement to resolve issues between individuals and facilities.
The LTCO program has local offices throughout Colorado, which serve their surrounding community. Each long-term care facility is required to display the location’s LTCO contact information, including their name and phone number. Alternatively, families can call their local AAA to be connected with their community’s LTCO.
The DRCOG AAA’s website lists every senior transportation service in Colorado. Colorado does not have a statewide senior transportation program, but most counties throughout the state offer local services. Senior transportation services in Colorado are either free or low-cost, and their services may include:
- Door-to-door transport to grocery stores, medical appointments, etc.
- Disability accommodations
- Curbside pickup
Eligibility requirements for transportation services vary. The AAA’s list notes which services are limited to seniors and which are limited to disabled riders. Colorado residents should contact their local senior transportation service for detailed information about their rider requirements.
Public transportation is another affordable option for Colorado residents. The following communities offer transportation services to local residents:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Fort Morgan
- Glenwood Springs
- Grand Junction
- Rocky Ford
Most counties with public transportation offer special bus and train fares for seniors and disabled riders. Various communities offer extra services in addition to their fixed bus and train routes, like door-to-door pickup. To learn more about senior fares and regional transportation options available in Colorado communities, contact the local area transit authority.
Proximity of care is very important when considering options
Research care options that are nearby when thinking about the next step for your loved ones.
Leona J. Werezak RN, BSN, MN is a registered nurse and adjunct nursing professor. She has 24 years experience working in a variety of healthcare settings including such remote locations as the Arctic Circle. Her research in early stage dementia was published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research and re-published in their 40th anniversary issue which showcased exceptional research published since the journal began. Her work in dementia care has also been published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. She currently teaches surgical nursing care on a thoracic/vascular unit to baccalaureate nursing students. Her clinical work with nursing students involves extensive work with older adults who have multiple chronic health conditions.