Healthy Aging & Promising Practices: A State Scan of Long-Term Care Policies

As one of the fastest aging states in the country, Colorado is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic shift. Between 2019 and 2030, the number of Coloradans aged 65 and older is projected to grow by more than 46 percent — that’s in addition to a 32 percent increase between 2010 and 2018.

Related: Colorado’s Aging Roadmap

This is good news. When Coloradans live longer, healthier lives, not only do we collectively benefit from their accumulated knowledge, but our state economy is bolstered by increased retiree spending. To truly see the benefits of our aging population, Colorado must proactively recognize and address gaps that prevent healthy aging. Fortunately, many leaders throughout our state understand this, and have actively supported initiatives to meet identified needs. On the well-regarded “LTSS Scorecard,” which analyzes long-term care systems across the country, Colorado has continuously ranked among the top 10 states in providing long-term supports.

Despite our progress, work remains. Too often, our current programs and systems don’t adequately meet the needs of Colorado’s aging population. Amongst the many consequences: Older adults and their caregivers often can’t afford or access the resources they require, our state budget is strained by the rising cost of long-term care, and tension continues to grow between the availability of and need for the direct service workers who help our older adults live the lives of their choice.

Related: New Action Plan on Aging Strengthens Economic Mobility

Our state can meet these challenges head on by building a comprehensive policy agenda that addresses the needs and leverages the opportunities of an aging population. To lay the groundwork for this agenda and thanks to a grant from NextFifty Initiative, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to funding innovative, mission-driven initiatives that improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers, we’ve conducted a scan across all 50 states to identify promising aging and long-term care policies and practices. This report contains our findings, discussing how successful programs and policies were developed and implemented, as well as resulting outcomes.

The lessons highlighted throughout this scan offer Colorado leaders an opportunity to learn from other states’ efforts. By embracing these values, learning from other’s work, and tailoring lessons to our own state’s needs, we can create an environment where Coloradans of all ages thrive.

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