Coloradans who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia often enter residential facilities and memory care units throughout the state, and the number of people affected is on the increase. As of 2020 and the latest statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are approximately 73,000 seniors with the disease in Colorado. This number is expected to grow to 92,000 by 2025. Deaths from Alzheimer’s are also on the rise — up by 157% since 2000 — with 1,830 fatalities per year in the most recent annual report.

Alzheimer’s and similar conditions create a unique set of challenges for those who have it and for their caregivers and family. Fortunately, there are memory care communities to help. This type of care can be quite expensive and although financial assistance is available for eligible residents in Colorado, the full cost can’t be covered by these programs.

Memory care can either be offered on its own in a community designed especially for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or, more often, it’s provided as a service in a separate wing of an assisted living facility. Memory care programs are designed specifically for those with memory impairment, and the facilities often coordinate social activities and schedules specifically for the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

This guide contains cost comparisons for memory care and other long-term care services in Colorado, as well as financial assistance programs, state licensing laws and useful resources.

The Cost of Memory Care in Colorado

Most of Colorado’s memory care recipients live in secure, purpose-built areas within a larger assisted living community. The additional care, supervision, security and medical features available in a memory care facility comes with an increased cost, which adds approximately 20 – 30% to the monthly bill of the average assisted living facility in the state. To calculate the average cost of memory care, we’ve added a 25% increase to the assisted living costs reported in Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey 2019.

Memory Care Costs in Nearby States

Seniors who receive memory care in Colorado pay an average of $5,119 per month, which is just $55 higher than the national average. At the regional level, Colorado compares favorably to Kansas — the most expensive neighboring state, with monthly costs of $5,591 — and residents of New Mexico pay only $6 per month more than Coloradans. Nebraska offers more significant savings of $345 per month and Utah is the most affordable, with memory care costs that are $869 lower than in Colorado.

$5119

Colorado

$5064

National

$5591

Kansas

$4774

Nebraska

$4250

Utah

$5125

New Mexico

Cost of Other Types of Care in Colorado

Memory care accommodation and services in Colorado have a price tag that’s second only to nursing home care at $8,197 per month, which is roughly 60% more expensive, although it’s generally easier to qualify for nursing coverage. Assisted living costs about $1,000 per month less than memory care, and is typically the most appropriate alternative for seniors in the early stages of memory loss and those with mild symptoms.

In-home care, such as chores and general assistance, as well as home health care costs almost as much as memory care if used on a full-time basis; both in-home options share a monthly cost of $4,957 in Colorado. Adult day care is the most affordable by a substantial amount, with an average monthly bill of $1,625, but may be unsuitable in the case of Alzheimer’s and similar memory conditions.

$5119

Memory Care

$4957

In-Home Care

$4957

Home Health Care

$1625

Adult Day Care

$4095

Assisted Living Facility

$8197

Nursing Home Care

The Cost of Memory Care in Colorado’s Top Cities

Comparing Costs Across Colorado

The difference in cost between Colorado’s most populous cities can be quite significant. Fort Collins is one of the most affordable cities, with a cost of $4,810 per month, and Boulder is the most expensive city at $5,938. Denver’s memory care costs are also relatively expensive — roughly $500 higher than the state average — as well as Grand Junction with it’s monthly average of $5,874.

$5000

Colorado Springs

$5625

Denver

$5938

Boulder

$4810

Fort Collins

$5874

Grand Junction

Financial Assistance for Memory Care in Colorado

Elderly, Blind & Disabled Waiver

Many older Coloradans receive medical and other benefits from the state Medicaid program — Health First Colorado — and additional services are available via the Elderly, Blind & Disabled Waiver. The EBD Waiver provides coverage for personal care services, such as assistance with activities of daily living, and licensed care from assisted living communities. In Colorado, these communities are officially referred to as Alternative Care Facilities (ACF) and can be certified for Alzheimer’s and memory care. Waiver recipients are responsible for the room and board costs at all such facilities in the state.

Who is Eligible?
Colorado residents must be aged 65+ or have one or more disabilities. If over 65, the applicant must be assessed with a significant functional impairment that would otherwise need to be managed in a nursing facility if waiver services weren’t available. Single applicants must have an income no higher than 300% of the monthly SSI limit — which calculates to $2,349 as of 2020 — and no more than $2,000 in assets.

How to Apply
Coloradans must first apply for the state Medicaid program, which can be done online or via traditional methods. Single Entry Point (SEP) Agencies throughout Colorado are responsible for helping Medicaid recipients with the EBD Waiver.

Free and Low-Cost Memory Care Resources in Colorado

Coloradans who need help with long-term care, insurance and other matters related to memory conditions can find answers and assistance from various sources. These agencies and organizations generally operate at the city or county level and have a good understanding of local services.

ResourceContactServices
Support Services (Area Agencies on Aging)

See website for regional contactsColorado is served by 16 regional agencies that help seniors remain independent, safe and healthy, as well as providing care coordination and referrals. Staff can discuss the options available for memory care in the local area, and can help in the application process for financial assistance.
Aging and Disability Resources for Colorado

844-265-2372ADRC is a statewide agency with a presence in many areas of Colorado. One-on-one counseling is available to help plan for long-term care and support for people with memory conditions, and the agency can provide care coordination with relevant local services.
Alzheimer’s Association – Colorado Chapter

1-800-272-3900The Alzheimer’s Association is a nationwide advocacy group with the ultimate goal of eliminating the disease. It has eight offices in Colorado that provide seniors and caregivers with care consultations, support and guidance on relevant services in each region of the state. Caregivers in particular may benefit from information and programs for early-stage Alzheimer’s.
CU Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center

303-724-7670The Center employs professional researchers, neurologists, clinical care workers and others to help understand Alzheimer’s and cognitive issues and provide diagnoses. It has world-class facilities including University of Colorado Hospital and CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
Legal Assistance

See website for regional contactsColoradans aged 60 or older may be eligible for free legal services in various non-criminal matters. Many legal services may apply to memory care, such as guardianship and health care issues or disputes with long-term care facilities. These services are provided as part of the Older Americans Act and managed by Area Agencies on Aging.
Colorado Veterans Affairs Offices and Facilities

See website for statewide directoryThe VA provides health care, residential care, assistance with benefits and other useful services for veterans and dependents throughout Colorado. Memory care recipients may be eligible for a large increase to their monthly pension. Vet Center staff can help applying for this and other financial assistance.
2-1-1 Colorado

211This phone service and online directory contains information on over 8,000 services provided by 2,800 agencies in Colorado. It includes useful information for memory care and health services, tax, finances and other aging and disability issues.

Memory Care Laws and Regulations in Colorado

Building design, levels of care, dining, medication management and staff training issues are among the rules and regulations enforced by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Memory care programs can be incorporated within a secure area of an assisted living facility or dedicated structure. In Colorado, these types of facilities are often called Alternative Care Facilities and less commonly known as Personal Care Homes.

Scope of Memory CareAssisted living facilities are permitted to offer memory care, including some nursing care, but residents with serious or long-term medical needs may be ineligible. Residents must be provided with appropriate and engaging activities and programs relating to their memory disorder. They must also receive the basics such as accommodation, security, meals, medication, assistance and socialization.
Admission and Care PlanColorado’s long-term care facilities are responsible for creating an admission policy. The state imposes some limits, such as the type and amount of nursing care provided and a prohibition of violent or self-harming residents. Each resident receives a care plan based on an initial assessment and followups, and it must include specifics on memory care if/when diagnosed, such as social and recreational opportunities tailored to cognitive abilities.
Medication ManagementMedication can only be administered by professionals known as qualified medication administration persons (QMAP) and must be logged and stored in a secure area. Assisted living residents can manage and self-administer unless expressly forbidden. Memory care residents generally require assistance and/or administration.
Staff Screening and TrainingAll staff must receive a clear background and criminal history check upon employment in any role. Staff members must have the required or appropriate education, certification and licenses based on their role and resident needs. This includes training on the proper care and services for cognitive impairments such as dementia.
Medicaid FundingAssisted living facilities that accept funding from Medicaid and are certified by the state to do so are known as Alternative Care Facilities. The facility is reimbursed for most personal care services, but residents must cover room and board.
Complaints, Abuse and NeglectResidents and others concerned can call (303) 691-4045 report suspected violations in memory care and assisted living. Reports can also be submitted online or by mail. Staff members are legally required to report various issues to the state, facility management and/or administrators.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does memory care cost in Colorado?

The average cost for Coloradans in memory care is $5,119 per month, which puts it in line with the national average. Utah’s monthly average is lower by $869, but Colorado isn’t particularly expensive for the region.

Does Colorado Medicaid pay for memory care?

The state Medicaid program and an appropriate waiver, such as the EBD Waiver detailed in this guide, can cover the personal care costs for eligible residents in memory care. Unfortunately, Medicaid never covers or provides reimbursements for room and board in memory care or assisted living.

What are “Activities of Daily Living?”

As the name suggests, this term covers the everyday tasks and movements of an individual, which includes getting out of bed, using wheelchairs and mobility aids, hygiene and eating. Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) is a requirement in assisted living and memory care.

What types of services does memory care provide?

Caregivers assist with activities of daily living to varying degrees based on the cognitive and physical abilities of each resident. Qualified staff can administer medication, and facilities can employ or coordinate with physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as other service providers as needed.

What security features are present in memory care facilities?

Memory care programs must take place in a secure facility or as a secure unit that is separated from a larger facility, which is most often an assisted living community. Most states allow the use of technology, such as keypad access, and physical barriers to prevent memory care residents from wandering. Each facility determines its own security beyond what is mandated by law.