Denver, CO

Elderly facing challenges living in youthful Denver

David Heitz

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A new report shows a growing number of elderly people in Denver can’t make ends meet and are living in poverty. Even more watch their rent and health care costs go up while their income remains stagnant. There’s a fear they are destined to go broke eventually.

The report, which was released this week, is by the Bell Policy Institute. It concludes Colorado must do a better job of protecting its economically vulnerable seniors.

“Denver faces these same challenges and expects to see the same trends as the state in the future,” councilwoman Amanda Sawyer wrote in a Facebook post. Sawyer posted the study, too.

Many elderly people facing poverty

The study shows that on the Front Range, 7 percent of seniors live at 100 percent of the poverty threshold, which was $13,465 for a single person in 2020. Another 14 percent live at 200 percent of the poverty threshold, which is $26,930.

The study revealed that elderly people of color are more likely to live in poverty than whites. It also pointed out that many elderly people are paying large portions of their income on home health care. “Currently 10-plus hours of care paid for out of pocket can take nearly a quarter of their income,” according to the report.

Denver scores 60 on elderly livability index

Denver scores at 60 on the AARP Livability Index. The state of Colorado scores 55.

Denver’s biggest drawback is the rent – about $1,210 per month for a small apartment. That puts it in the top third of the most expensive rent cities for seniors.

The Bell report also reveals huge disparities between white seniors and those of color. A lack of culturally competent health care leads to worse outcomes among people of color, for example.

Denver hailed as ‘livable city’ for elderly

The Bell report said many cities have made great progress in making their piece of Colorado better for seniors. Denver is listed as “Livable City” by the AARP for its efforts at improving life for seniors. Those initiatives include “providing affordable and safe housing, increasing mobility and access through transportation, improving access to work opportunities, creating incentives to employ more health care workers, creating more incentives to combat isolation, and improving safety,” according to the AARP.

Mayor Michael Hancock spoke of today’s large Baby Boomer population in a letter he wrote to AARP in 2014. “With 134,000 baby boomers turning 65 years of age by 2020, Denver is striving to be a model city for older adults to create a community of engagement, empowerment, and enhancement of necessary services and amenities.

Average age in Denver is 34.5

“To address the changing demographics of our community, we have recently begun to update the report ‘Age Matters,’ which was first published in 2010,” Hancock continued. “This report will become the blueprint for future steps and engagement to ensure that Denver is the best city to live in at any age.”

The average age of a person in Denver in 2021 was 34.5, according to World Population Review. The 2020 census lists the number of people age 65 and over in Denver at 11.9 percent.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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