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Colorado Residential Alzheimer’s Care (Memory Care): Laws, Costs & Financial Help

Last Updated: November 13, 2022

 

Assisted living residences provide a place to live for older adults who cannot stay in their homes, including people with dementia. In Colorado, assisted living offers room, board, and meals to three or more adults, as well as providing security, supervision, personal care, and social services. Care and services include transportation to appointments and help with activities of daily living like eating or getting dressed.

Assisted living may provide memory care for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by having a special residence or a secure wing. Someone who needs 24-hour nursing care typically may not reside in an assisted living residence.

An assisted living residence with memory care (also called Alzheimer’s care or dementia care) must also:

– Conduct a detailed assessment to determine the resident’s personal needs
– Have secure spaces with special locking devices
– Have continuous monitoring to ensure safety indoors and outside
– Offer services like activities to strengthen memory and encourage socialization

There are approximately 200 memory care communities in the state. Additionally, there are more than 380 board and care homes, which are smaller home-like residences that offer similar services including memory care. Assisted living in Colorado is regulated by the Department of Public Health and Environment. Free assistance is available to help families locate a residence that works for their loved one. Get help here.

 Youth & Healthy: Colorado is a relatively young state, with only 13% of its residents over 65, one of the lowest rates in the country. And of those, only about 10% have Alzheimer’s disease, which is also low compared to other states.

 

How Much Does Memory Care Cost in Colorado?

The average cost of memory care per month in Colorado in 2022 is $5,742. Remember to fully research the costs at any memory care home, asking for a complete list of fees and charges including any potential add-ons. The state’s most expensive place for memory care is Boulder, where it costs $7,582 per month. Memory care is considerably less expensive in Pueblo, costing $4,601 monthly.

 Did You Know? Coloradans with dementia can receive free assistance locating memory care residences that meet their needs and budget. Start here.  

Anyone who lives in Colorado and is looking for more affordable memory care might want to check prices just across the state borders. Wyoming, Utah, and Nebraska are all bordering states whose memory costs are, on average, lower than Colorado’s. Northern Coloradans could look in Wyoming, where the average is $5,043 per month; people on the Colorado Plateau along the western end of the state could potentially go to Utah, where the costs $4,233 per month; and residents in the northeastern plains area might find less expensive memory care in Nebraska, for an average of $4,932 per month. Additionally, New Mexico’s costs are similar to Colorado’s running $5,448 monthly.

Other Colorado cities and their memory-care prices include:

Colorado Memory Care / Assisted Living Costs (updated Aug. 2022)
Region / City Daily Cost Monthly Cost
Statewide $189 $5,742
Denver $219 $6,662
Colorado Springs $185 $5,632
Fort Collins $160 $4,859
Pueblo $151 $4,601

 

Colorado Assisted Living Laws & Regulations

 Covid 19-Related Measures (updated Aug. 2022)
Residents – Their temperatures are checked and patients are also tested regularly.
Visitors – Can visit loved ones, must wear a mask and temperature is checked upon entry.
Staff – Have temperatures checked upon entry and are regularly tested.

Admissions Requirements & Process

A pre-admission assessment is required for all residents moving into a memory care residence in Colorado. This assessment must be updated annually, because facilities may not care for someone whose needs cannot be met by the services they provide. The screening must determine:

– Physical, health, and social needs
– Preferences (cultural, religious, etc.)
– Ability to self-care

An example of the assessment form is provided here, and can be filled out by the resident or family member. This means that if you understand your loved one’s capabilities, particularly if you are a caregiver, you can help determine whether a home is the right fit. The assessment still needs a physician’s report, and the cost of this is unlikely to be covered by the residence (though make sure to ask). If your loved one is on Medicare, using their annual free wellness visit or cognitive assessment, can be a way for insurance to cover this cost and get what you need to move into memory care.

You do not need to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia to move into memory care in Colorado. It is difficult to diagnose dementia and what is important is that memory care is for people who need specially trained staff to care for them. This is done by focusing on how to best support your loved one.

The following information must be provided by the facility to anyone moving into a Colorado assisted living residence:

– Right to receive CPR (residents may refuse to be resuscitated)
– Minimum staffing levels
– Policy on whether staff are awake during nighttime hours
– Emergency alert devices and evacuation plan
– Individualized care plan
– Smoking regulations
– On-site location of latest inspection report
– Upon request, a copy of most recent licensing rules

Someone who requires regular 24-hour medical or nursing care may not be admitted into a facility, and neither can a person with a history of behavior conduct that poses a danger to one’s self or others.

 

Facility / Residence

A single-person bedroom must be at least 100 square feet, not including bathroom and closet areas, and a two-person unit must be at least 120 square feet. Two people is the maximum allowed in one room, unless the residence was built before 1986. One bathroom with a sink, toilet, and shower must be provided for every six residents. Alarm systems and fire detection including sprinklers and smoke alarms must be up to building codes.

Regulations do not require dementia-friendly building designs in memory care residences in Colorado. This would include features like circular hallways and easy-to-navigate layouts. For this reason, be sure to fully inspect the entire community before moving in, keeping an eye on whether your loved one will be able to easily move around.

 

Staff & Training

There is no required staff-to-resident ratio in Colorado. The number of staff must be adequate to meet the needs of every resident on-site, and there must always be at least one person working who has CPR and first-aid certification. Every employee (or volunteer) at an assisted living residence must complete an orientation that includes:

– Care and services provided at the residence
– Residents’ rights
– Overview of state regulations
– Infection control
– Emergency response
– Reporting requirements

Administrators must clear a background check and be at least 21 years old, with at least one year supervising administration of personal care services. Forty-five hours of care-related training is required for administrators along with forty hours of administrator training.

 

Eviction Rules

A Colorado assisted living residence is not required to give any notice before someone can be evicted. This means your loved one can be discharged on short notice for reasons including not paying the bill in a timely manner. Regulations say, however, that this must be spelled out in the resident agreement signed at admissions. Look carefully at your agreement for rules about evictions and you can probably negotiate 30 or even 60 days notice.

Residents may also be evicted if their medical condition cannot be managed at the home. Because dementias (including Alzheimer’s disease) are progressive, you need to be sure that as your loved one’s condition progresses, the community is prepared to handle more severe symptoms.

Get specific details from the residence about what it would cause your loved one to be discharged, and how that process works, before moving in. Click here for more information.

 

Financial Assistance for Residential Alzheimer’s Memory Care

Medicaid Waiver for the Elderly, Blind, and Disabled

This waiver provides financial assistance for people who need nursing-home-level care but want to stay in the residence of their choice, including assisted living. Services covered do not include room and board, but help with the additional costs of laundry, housekeeping, and medical support. Among the eligibility requirements for Colorado residents is income (for one person) under $2,742 in 2023. This program’s full name is the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Persons Who Are Elderly, Blind and Disabled. The waiver is available state-wide but enrollment may be capped, so eligibility doesn’t guarantee availability. This means there might be a significant wait time to receive benefits. More information is available on the state’s website here. To apply, contact the Colorado Single Entry Point Agency in your area.

 Not sure if your loved one qualifies for Medicaid? See Colorado Medicaid eligibility requirements or for a Medicaid Eligibility Test, click here.

 

Colorado Old Age Pension

Elderly, low-income Colorado residents may be eligible for financial help with costs including services in assisted living. The Old Age Pension is meant to bridge the gap between a person’s monthly income and a reasonable cost of living. Someone in the program can receive more than $800 per month, depending on income and enrollment in other programs like Social Security. To apply, contact your County Department of Human Services office here.

 

Adult Foster Care Program

Someone in the early stages of dementia may be eligible for financial assistance through the Adult Foster Care Program. Adult foster care homes are for people who can live more independently in a family-like environment. This is not appropriate for memory care, but someone with early-stage dementia who is still relatively independent and functional may benefit. Among the costs covered are meals, transportation, and help with activities of daily living. To apply, contact your local County Department of Human Services here.

 

Veterans Affairs (VA)

Veterans are statistically more likely to develop dementia. Among the reasons for this is that traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder lead to a higher probability of developing the condition. The VA offers many benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as different pension types.

 

VA Pensions

There are three types of VA Pensions available. The benefits change annually and are valid from December 2022 to December 2023. The benefits (and their maximum allowance) are as follows:

1) Basic Pension – This benefit is also known as a death pension. It is for veterans and surviving spouses who are aged or disabled. The qualifying disability does not need to be related to their military service. On an annual basis, the Basic Pension pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children up to $16,073

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children up to $21,001

– Surviving spouses without dependent children up to $10,756

2) Aid & Attendance – Abbreviated as A&A, this is an important program for veterans and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living. This means they need assistance with activities like bathing, dressing, and eating. A&A is particularly helpful for people with dementia, especially in the middle and later stages of the disease, when the need for more assistance becomes necessary. A&A is intended to help with the long-term care costs of adult day care, in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. Based on an individual’s need and the progression of the disease, most of these additional services that support your loved one will become necessary. Annually, the A&A pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $26,751

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $31,713

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $17,191

3) Housebound – For veterans and surviving spouses who are permanently disabled and unable to leave their homes, making them require additional assistance. The definition of “home” can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home. The Housebound pension, like the A&A pension, is meant to help cover long-term care costs. Annually, the Housebound pays:

– Veterans without spouses or children a maximum of $19,598

– Veterans with dependent spouses or children a maximum of $24,562

– Surviving spouses without dependent children a maximum of $13,145

 More information on VA Pensions’ eligibility criteria, payment rates and the application process is available here.

 

Veterans Homes

There are five veterans’ homes in Colorado, which are residential care facilities that provide long-term care for veterans. The homes are located in Aurora, Homelake (in the southern part of the state), Florence (near Pueblo), Rifle (in western Colorado), and Walsenburg (off Interstate 25 in southern Colorado). In addition to nursing home care, assisted living and memory care may be provided. Neighboring states have veterans’ homes, so a loved one might consider looking there for more options as there are no requirements that one must live in the state. For example, Nebraska and Utah both have four Veterans’ homes statewide and some are located relatively close to their shared border. Additionally, New Mexico and Kansas both have two facilities statewide. More info.

 

Other Options

1)Elder care loans exist for families to cover the costs of moving into memory care while waiting for other financial resources to become available. For example, if one is waiting for a VA pension to be approved or waiting to sell a home. More on bridge loans for memory care.

2) Tax credits and deductions like the Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled, or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (if you can claim your elderly loved one as a dependent). Remember also that medical and dental expenses can be deducted, and that can include assisted living costs.

3) A reverse mortgage can be an option for a married person moving into memory care, if their spouse continues to live in the home. However, if the spouse moves from their home, the reverse mortgage becomes due.