The Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Colorado
Many Colorado elders age 65 and over struggle to make ends meet. Living costs are high, especially for housing and health care. In the face of rising expenses, many elders receive only a modest cost-of-living adjustment each year; thus, they are spending down retirement savings and/or facing growing debt. At the same time, older people face a challenging future if their life circumstances change due to illness, loss of a spouse or partner and/or growing needs for help with daily tasks. Older women are particularly challenged with income and assets that are typically lower than men’s. Their longer lifespan also means that they more often live with chronic illnesses and high health costs.
The Elder Index helps answer key questions:
- What is an adequate income for older adults in Colorado to “age in place”?
- How do financial needs vary according to the life circumstances of elders, whether they live alone or with a spouse or partner, rent or own their home, drive a car or use other transportation?
- How do living expenses change as health status and life circumstances change?
- What happens if elders need long-term care to remain at home?
The Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index) is developed as a measure of the cost of basic expenses of elder households (those with household heads who are age 65 or older) to age in place, continuing to live in the community setting of their choice. The Elder Index defines economic security as the financial status where elders have sufficient income (from Social Security, pensions, retirement savings and other sources) to cover basic and necessary living expenses. The Elder Index is based on the idea that elders should be able to meet their expenses without public support, such as food assistance, energy assistance, subsidized housing or property tax help. It demonstrates the interplay between Colorado elders’ living expenses and actual income. The Elder Index also illustrates how elders’ living expenses change when their life circumstances change.
This report presents the Elder Index for Colorado to benchmark basic living expense costs for elder households. It illustrates how expenses vary both by specific Colorado geographic areas and by the circumstances of elder households, including household size, homeowner or renter status, health status and the need for long-term care. The expenses are based on market costs and do not assume any public or private supports.
Contact: Tracey Stewart
Family Economic Security Program manager
303-573-5669, ext. 314