Older adults on aging in Colorado — the good and not-so-good

Housing costs, including taxes, a big concern ~

Every four years the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) develops an Area Plan on Aging. Community input is key to the planning process. The Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults is a statistically valid survey of the self-reported strengths and needs of the region’s population of older adults. Findings include how older adults view livability, their communities, employment and finances; equity and inclusivity; health and wellness; access to information and assistance; and productive activities. The survey revealed that most older adults in the Denver region want to age in place and found that communities that help older adults remain, or become active, community participants provide opportunities for recreation, transportation, culture, education, communication, social connection, spiritual enrichment and health care.

According to Jayla Sanchez-Warren, the director of DRCOG’s Area Agency on Aging, “Many older adults in our region face challenges finding suitable affordable housing, transportation and even quality health care, but at the same time our surveys show they remain generally positive and hopeful they can age well in place here.”

Most of the region’s older residents gave high ratings to their community, with 82% reporting their neighborhood was a good place to live and about two-thirds saying they’d recommend retiring in the Denver metro area. Three quarters of respondents reported they are likely to remain in their community throughout retirement. The Area Agency on Aging has conducted the survey four times over the past 16 years and compares results over time. 

In the Denver region, the 13 areas where older adults’ ratings improved since 2018 were:

  • Sense of community.
  • Their overall physical health.
  • Their overall quality of life.
  • Ease of travel by public transportation in their community.
  • Ease of travel by car in their community.
  • Ease of walking in their community.
  • Availability of affordable quality housing.
  • Variety of housing options.
  • Availability of long-term care options.
  • Availability of affordable, quality physical health care.
  • Availability of affordable, quality mental health care.
  • Availability of preventive health services (for example, health screenings, flu shots or educational workshops).
  • Neighborliness of their community.

The 10 potential challenges for which the proportion of older adults who reported a problem increased in 2022 were:

  • Having enough money to pay property taxes.
  • Having housing to suit their needs.
  • Doing heavy or intense housework.
  • Maintaining their home.
  • Maintaining their yard.
  • Having safe and affordable transportation available.
  • Building skills for paid or unpaid work.
  • Not knowing what services are available to older adults in their community.
  • Being a victim of crime.
  • Being a victim of fraud or a scam.

DRCOG’s Area Agency on Aging also provides survey results for each county and partnered with Aurora, Commerce City and Golden to prepare city-specific reports.  Visit drcog.org/casoa to see the reports from 2022 and 2018.

If you or someone you know is aging and needs help, reach out to the Area Agency on Aging at 303-480-6700.

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