Colorado Center for Aging logo

Aging in Rural Colorado

This video features Niki Delson, Co-Chair of the Carbondale Age-Friendly Community Initiative in Carbondale, Colorado.

We are sharing our Voices on Aging videos. These three videos provide insight into the issues impacting the lives of older adults in Colorado and their community.

Rural Colorado communities offer older adults small multigenerational communities, where everyone knows and takes care of each other. A place where they can have a voice and be involved in their community.

Aging adults are a vital force in some rural communities. According to Marilyn Huseby, “(Montrose) is a town run by volunteers.” The Hospital, Library, Food Bank and more, are all volunteer organizations. Time Bank of the Rockies offers a way for everyone to be involved. Instead of being “paid” for their time, volunteers put their hours into a bank, and when they need help, Time Bank sends a volunteer to help them. Everyone contributes and everyone benefits!

But aging in rural communities is not without its challenges. Transportation is a problem in rural towns where the nearest medical services could be as far as 60 miles away. While tele-medicine has helped, it does not replace all in person medical services. The Colorado Commission on Aging is actively working to address this. There are also concerns about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Niki Delson, Co-Chair of The Carbondale Age-Friendly Community Initiative explained how her organization is working to change their main corridor to be a multi-modal corridor, designed to safely accommodate cars, bicycles and pedestrians.

Another challenge is funding for support services. Food delivery services provide more than just food, for some of the recipients this is their only social interaction. The city of Montrose is running their program with help from Volunteers of America, Time Bank of the Rockies and from grant funds, but funding is hard to get and harder to sustain. In the San Juan Basin, the Area Agency on Aging has done a wonderful job of getting food out to people who need it. And in Weld County, the Area Agency on Aging is relying on volunteers.  When the pandemic is over, this issue must be addressed.

Every community needs to focus on its unique needs, but as a state, we need a platform that will bring us all together and address the common issues on aging. The Colorado Commission on Aging focuses on all matters affecting older persons. As Former Senator Larry Crowder said, “We need to look out for the future of all Coloradans.”