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The state of Illinois is a beautiful state with plenty of activities for retirees and people of any age. From the large city of Chicago to the rural communities in this state, there truly is something for everyone of all ages. Should Illinois be the state where you find your perfect senior living community?
Costs of Assisted Living in Illinois
Assisted Living Care services in the state of Illinois are almost $4,000 per month, (over $45,000 a year.) This expense may increase depending on the services required, the clients they cater to (those with dementia or those in specialized dementia units will likely be more expensive) as well as the location of the facility. Facilities closer to Chicago are more expensive than those in the rural areas of Illinois such as Carbondale, Peoria and Decatur.
Assisted Living prices in Illinois are higher than the national average of $3,293 per month, which makes sense, as Illinois is a state with a higher cost of living than the national average. However, this is still much lower than the price of an Illinois nursing home, where semi-private rooms cost $67,000 annually, and a private room is approximately $75,000 annually.
The average cost for Adult Day Health Care in Illinois is $1,550 per month which averages around $19,000 per year. A Home Health Aide is also an option for Illinois seniors, but at the cost of over $4,100 per month. The Home Health Aide is more expensive than an Assisted Living Facility and, unlike Assisted Living where there is 24-hour care available, the cost for the Home Health Aide is based on a 44-hour week. To adequately cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week you would need 3.8 Home Health Aides which would be more than the cost of a nursing facility. It is estimated that by the year 2030, Assisted Living in Illinois will cost almost $70,500 per year – an increase of over $24,000.
Assisted living costs in Illinois are varied from city to city, and on average are as follows:
- Carbondale, IL - $3,209 per month. By far the cheapest Illinois city for assisted living, Carbondale's assisted living costs are $800/month lower than Illinois average and more than $1800/month lower than the most expensive Illinois city for assisted living - Bloomington.
- Peoria, IL - $3,585 per month
- Decatur, IL - $3,596 per month
- Champaign, IL - $3,625 per month
- Danville, IL - $3,805 per month
- Rockford, IL - $3,821 per month
- Kankakee, IL - $4,019 per month
- Chicago, IL - $4,350 per month
- Springfield, IL - $4,763 per month
- Bloomington, IL - $5,050 per month
Eligibility requirements for Assisted Living Facilities in Illinois
Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) as well as “Shared Housing Establishments” (SHEs) which are called group homes in some states are for individuals who are no longer capable or living on their own but are not ready for the care that comes with a full-time nursing facility. Those who live in Assisted Living Facilities are provided services which include meals, housekeeping, laundry, and activities of daily living (ADLs).
Those who are eligible for care in an Assisted Living Facility are people who need some assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) which can include dressing, toileting, eating, transferring from a bed to a chair or vice-versa. There are residency requirements for ALFs which include: the facility must be able to provide services that are appropriate for you (it would be immoral and illegal to accept someone into an Assisted Living Facility when they truly need 24-hour medical care that is typically provided by a long-term care facility); and the needs of the client must be the type for which the facility is licensed; and the facility must have sufficient staff with appropriate skills and training to provide these services.
Are there circumstances where you may be either excluded from, or your residency terminated from an assisted living facility in Illinois? The simple answer is yes, under circumstances like the following:
- Posing a serious threat to yourself or other people;
- Unable to communicate your needs and do not have someone familiar to you within the facility who can direct the services provided to you;
- If you need help with an ADL from more than one paid caregiver;
- You need total assistance with two or more ADLs – meaning that the staff or other individual performs the entire activity without participation or aid from you;
- If you need more than minimal help to move to a safe area of the building, then it is not safe for you to be in that type of facility. This includes responding to and following staff instructions if necessary;
- If you have a serious mental illness where you are disabled substantially in self-maintenance, activities of community living, and social functioning or interaction and this mental disability is expected to be present for at least one year or longer. This also includes those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia;
- If you need treatment for a condition that cannot be done by yourself or by a qualified “licensed health care professional.” These treatments include, but are not limited to, IV therapy, IV feedings, sterile irrigation, catheter replacement, and insulin injections;
- If you need treatment for a stage 3 or stage 4 decubitus ulcer or exfoliative dermatitis (you can do your own research on what these are, but trust us that they are not pretty and not a condition that you want yourself or a loved one to have); and
- Your condition requires five or more skilled nursing visits per week, unless you are receiving these visits for temporary rehabilitation.
Who pays for Assisted Living Care in Illinois?
Most Illinois Assisted Living care costs in Illinois must be covered privately by either the Illinois seniors or their loved ones. Medicaid is the only program that will help pay for assisted living services, and you must first qualify for Medicaid in Illinois.
First, let’s discuss the senior program known as Comprehensive Care in Residential Settings, which is a prototype for affordable assisted living services in Illinois. Currently, only a small number of facilities are participating in this program, which combines affordable rent with state-care services. Eligibility requirements for this program include:
- Illinois senior 60 years of age or older;
- Less than $17,500 in liquid assets;
- A score of at least 29 on the Illinois functional assessment.
- Apply for Medicaid.
Senior services that are included with this program include: three meals per day, housekeeping, 24-hour security, Emergency Response System, and Laundry Service. However, currently only seven assisted living facilities are participating and they are in the cities of Murphysboro, Ullin, Herrin, Deerfield, Marion, Olney, and Rockford.
Waiver Programs available for seniors in Illinois:
- Home and Community Based Services Waiver Programs – allows seniors to remain in their homes or live in a community setting. Illinois has nine different HCBS waivers, each designed for those with similar needs but offers a different set of services. We will discuss some in detail in this article, but will name them all and provide links should you have more questions.
What are the eligibility requirements for an HCBS Waiver?
- Must be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien and be a resident of the state of Illinois;
- Must meet the Medicaid financial criteria which can be different for each waiver;
- Must need an institutional level of care, which again can be different for each waiver;
- The services provided to the senior must be equal to or less than the cost of institutionalized care; and
- Depending on the waiver program, the senior must meet the specific eligibility requirements for that waiver.
9 HBCS Waiver Programs in Illinois include:
- Children and Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities – Support Waiver;
- Children and Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities – Residential Waiver;
- Persons that are Technology Dependent/Medically Fragile – this is for people under the age of 18;
- Persons with Disabilities;
- Persons with Brain Injury (BI);
- Adults with Developmental Disabilities – for those 18 and older who are at risk of being placed in an Intermediate Care Facility for those with Developmental Disabilities. To be eligible you must: be a US citizen or a legal alien, be a resident of Illinois, be age 18 or older, assessed as eligible for institutional care for those with developmental disabilities, enrolled in Medicaid (those who are between 0-18 qualify with family income levels up to 142 of the Federal Poverty Level). This also includes those who are enrolled through the Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HBWD) program, and not in need of 24-hour nursing care;
- Persons who are Elderly – for those Illinois seniors 60 or older and who risk institutionalization. Eligibility requirements include: US citizen or legal alien, Illinois resident, 60 or older, Medicaid eligible, have completed a Determination of Need assessment and be at risk of nursing home placement as a result of the assessment; can be safely maintained in the home or in a community-based setting, and the cost to the state would be less than the cost of institutionalized care;
- Persons with HIV or AIDS – for those of any age who are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and are at risk of institutionalization in a nursing facility. Eligibility criteria include: must be a US citizen or legal alien, resident of the state of Illinois, eligible for Medicaid or enrolled in the Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HWBD) program; medical diagnosis of HIV or AIDS that includes severe limitations and is expected to last for 12 months or for the rest of their life; completed a Determination of Need (DON) assessment and be at risk of nursing home placement; can be safely maintained in their home or community-based setting with the services provided during the care plan, and the cost to the state for the person to remain in the home or community is less than the cost of institutionalized care; and
- Supportive Living Facilities – for either those between the ages of 22-64 with a physical disability or elderly Illinois residents over 65. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements: a) U.S. citizen or legal alien; b) Illinois Resident; c) after screening by a designated screening agency, the person must be in need of nursing level care and the Supportive Living Program is appropriate to meet the needs of that individual; d) no diagnosis of developmental disability or severe and persistent mental illness; e) not be on any of the required sex offender websites; f) documentation of no active tuberculosis (TB); g) not participating in other HCBS waiver programs; h) and an income that is greater or equal to the current maximum allowable amount of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), while contributing all but $90/month toward room, board, and services.
Services for a senior living in Illinois
Illinois has an extensive list of services available for older people or those with disabilities. Most of these services available for older people in Illinois are coordinated by the Illinois Department on Aging, which coordinates with other organizations to provide the services that are needed to help Illinois seniors remain in their homes and the communities. There are a total of 13 Illinois Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), which help plan and coordinate services for seniors living in Illinois.
There are Illinois Department of Aging Community Services, which are in place to help Illinois seniors remain living independently in their own homes. These include:
- Automated Medication Dispenser (AMD) – this is a portable, mechanical system that is programmable to remind the program participant to take their medication. There is a cost for this service between $40-$65;
- Care Coordination Services – a “care coordinator” is assigned to help Illinois seniors and their caregivers to determine what the senior's needs are and what services are available to meet the needs of that person;
- Illinois Family Caregiver Support Program – a program which focuses on helping caregivers. One in four households in Illinois provides some sort of care to seniors – either family or friends. A staggering 85% of long-term care services in Illinois are provided by unpaid caregivers. The cost of replacing the unpaid caregivers with paid home care is estimated to cost between $45 to $94 billion annually.
- Community Care Program – the goal of this program is to keep seniors live in their homes and stay out of nursing facilities, by providing in-home and community-based services. To be eligible, you must receive Medicaid and meet the following criteria:
- 60-years of age or older;
- A US citizen or legal alien;
- An Illinois resident;
- Have non-exempt assets of $17,500 or less (this does not include a car, home, or personal furnishings); and
- Have been assessed to be at risk for nursing home placement.
The services that are provided by the Community Care program include Adult Day Service, Emergency Home Response Service, In-Home Service, and Care Coordination Services.
- Programs which provide Illinois seniors with meals, nutrition, and information on healthy eating include: Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, and the Nutrition Program;
- Illinois Information and Assistance Program – much like the Care Coordination program, this program helps seniors living in Illinois to see what programs are available and which programs they are eligible for;
- Other community-based services for Illinois elderly are: Money Management (which helps low-income seniors who have problems managing their budgets, paying bills, dealing with creditors, or handling other financial issues); Senior Community Service Employment Program (helping those over 55 who are entering or re-entering the job market); Senior Health Assistance Program (SHAP); and Senior Transportation Services. The Transportation program helps Illinois seniors to avoid going to nursing homes and to live in independent senior communities.
These programs work due to volunteers in the community.
- There are also programs available that protect the Rights and Safety of Illinois seniors, including:
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman;
- Elder Rights and Advocacy;
- Elderly Legal Assistance;
- Adult Protective Services – abuse is not limited to physical abuse. It can also be neglect or financial abuse. If you suspect that someone is being neglected or abused – physically, emotionally, or financially then please call immediately. You do not have to give your name, and you may save someone’s life;
- Looking out for Fraud; and
- Illinois Senior Helpline – M-F 8:30-5:00 CST. 1-800-252-8966.
Why Should Seniors Live in Illinois?
The cost of living in Illinois is about average when compared to the rest of the nation, which is something to consider when you are relocating. If you are looking for senior housing in Illinois, you should know that the median cost of senior housing in the state is lower than the rest of the nation.
Here are some things to consider when choosing if senior living in Illinois is right for you:
- Weather – Lake Michigan has a tremendous effect on the climate in Illinois. The lake helps produce moderate temperatures – cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. However, the proximity to the lake can lead to lake-effect snow, and there are low-lying areas in Illinois which are prone to flooding, which is the most damaging weather hazard that Illinois faces. Flooding has cost the state $257 million annually for over 30 years;
- Taxes – Illinois is tax friendly for seniors and retirees. Not only is Social Security income not taxed, but the state does not tax 401(k)s, IRAs or traditional IRAs which have been converted to Roth IRAs. Furthermore, self-employment retirement plans, state and local government deferred compensation plans, military plans, and retirement plans made to retired partners are not taxed;
- Home prices – While the average cost of a home in the United States is $170,000, the price in Illinois is $147,900 – although houses in Illinois are, on average, nine years older than homes across the country;
- Cost of Living – Surprisingly, the cost of living is 4.4% less than the national average. The cost of everyday activities – clothing, entertainment, etc. is lower than the average, with only transportation being higher;
- History and Culture – there are many historical places in Illinois to visit and explore. According to TripAdvisor.com, some of the popular attractions for seniors and others in Illinois are:
- Art Institute of Chicago – the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by Trip-Advisor four years in a row. It has the greatest Impressionist collection outside of Paris, as well as galleries devoted specifically to the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas.
- Millennium Park – known for its collection of architecture, landscape design, and art, Millennium Park also offers numerous cultural programs such as concerts, tours, exhibitions, and family activities. It even has a Ferris Wheel;
- Cloud Gate – a public sculpture located in the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park. The sculpture is nicknamed “The Bean” and is made from 168 stainless steel plates with no visible seams;
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library – located in Springfield, Illinois. It follows the life of our 16th president from an Indiana cabin to the White House and shows the highs and lows of his family and the nation;
- The Magnificent Mile – see why this 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue is one of the greatest streets in the world and one of the top ten hospitality, dining, and retail destinations in the world. With 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels there is sure to be something for every Illinois senior to do in this unique location;
- The Field Museum – a museum of natural history, the Field’s “Live over Time” now is home to “Sue,” the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found - perfect destination for the Illinois elderly residents;
- The Flamingo Statue – a 53-foot tall steel structure located in the Federal Plaza in front of the Federal Building. It is 50 tons of steel in the shape of a Flamingo; and
- Willis Tower – formerly known as Sears Tower, this 110-story building is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Ledge at Skydeck is 1,353 feet in the area, and you can even stand on one of the glass balconies that extend 4.3 feet outside the building. You can also enjoy Breakfast or Dinner on the Skydeck.
Weather in Illinois
Due to the size of Illinois – nearly 400 miles between the northernmost and southernmost extremes – the climate varies throughout the state. Seniors in most cities in Illinois will experience summers that are both humid and hot, and winters that are quite cold. The southern part of the state has warmer winters than the north. The average precipitation can vary from over 48 inches at the southern tip to approximately 35 inches in the north. Snowfall amounts vary as well - the Chicago area gets over 38 inches per year, and the southern part gets under 14 inches.
Chicago has 84 sunny days per year and 105 partly sunny days, whereas Springfield, in the southern part of the state, has 104 sunny days and 94 partly sunny days. However, Illinois also has bad weather as well, and the state averages 51 days of thunderstorms annually and 35 tornadoes occurring per year. As Chicago is on the border of Lake Michigan, it is possible for lake-effect snow to affect the weather in the Chicago area and deposit large amounts of snow on this area.
The 5th most populated state in America, with an estimated 12.86 million people according to the latest Census, Illinois is the 25th largest state - with an area of 57,614 square miles. Illinois ranks 12th in population density with 232 people per square mile. The percentage of seniors living in Illinois has increased from 12.5% in 2010 to 14.2% in the last Census. Illinois ranks as the 40th highest state with senior citizens. Illinois is generally separated into three distinct parts: Northern Illinois is referred to as “Chicagoland” and includes the city of Chicago, the suburbs of Chicago, and the area where the Chicago metropolis is expanding. While “Chicagoland” is only 8% of the land area in Illinois, almost 65% of Illinois seniors and other residents live there. The population of the Chicago Metro Area is over 9.8 million. It is also well known for the various ethnic groups that call Chicago home.
The midsection of Illinois, called Central Illinois, is mostly a rural area filled with prairies and is called the Heart of Illinois. Cities here include Peoria, Springfield (the state capital), Quincy, Decatur, Bloomington-Normal, and Champaign-Urbana.
The third and last part, is Southern Illinois, an area south of U.S. Route 50 and near the intersection of the Ohio and the Mississippi River.
The city of Chicago, in Cook County, is the largest city in the state and the 3rd most populated city in the nation. There are seven other cities for seniors to choose from within Illinois that have populations of over 100,000 based on the last Census. These include:
- Aurora, Illinois – in Kane County – has a population of just over 200,000;
- Rockford, Illinois – in Winnebago County – a population of approximately 148,000;
- Joliet, Illinois – in Will County – a population of approximately 144,500;
- Naperville, Illinois – DuPage County – population around 145,000;
- Springfield, Illinois, the capital – Sangamon County – population around 117,000;
- Peoria, Illinois – Peoria County – approximate population of 115,000;
- Elgin, Illinois – Kane County – population around 112,000;
- Waukegan, Illinois – Lake County – approximate population of 89,000; and
- Champaign, Illinois – Champaign County – population around 87,000.
The top three religious majorities in Illinois recently have been: Roman Catholics, who are heavily concentrated around Chicago and make up 30% of the population - approximately 3.65 million; United Methodist Church with around 314,500; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 283,500 members. Illinois also has the largest concentration of Missouri Synod Lutherans in the nation. Furthermore, Illinois has the largest concentration of Muslims of any other state with 2,800 Muslims for every 100,000 citizens.
English is the primary language in Illinois, with nearly 80% of the population speaking it natively. The others speak it fluently as a second language. Almost 12% of the population speak Spanish at home, and there are many Polish speakers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area as well.
According to last census, the racial composition of Illinois is approximately: 71% White (63.7% non-Hispanic white and 7.8% White-Hispanic); 14.5% Black; 0.3% Asian; 4.6% Asian-American, and 2.3% Multiracial American.
Taxes in Illinois
Illinois taxes seniors and everyone else 3.75% on their income tax; however, it makes up for this with the higher-than-average sales tax (11th highest in the country) and the 2nd highest property taxes.
Tax credits in Illinois include: the Illinois Property Tax Credit which is the equivalent of 5% of your Illinois property tax paid on a principal residence; the Earned Income Tax Credit which is equal to 5% of the federal credit of the same name, and the Education Expense Credit, which give a credit to parents who spent over $250 on eligible K-12 education expenses.
The state of Illinois has a statewide sales tax that is based on three different levels, depending on what you are purchasing. Qualifying food, drugs, and medical appliances, things that must be registered (like cars) and general merchandise are all taxed by different amounts. It’s rather confusing, yet oddly interesting and somewhat entertaining.
Grocery and medicine are taxed at a rate of 1% of the purchase price by the state, however local taxes can add another 1.25% on top of that. Some “food” does not count as a “qualifying food”, such as candy and soda, which are taxed at the rate of general merchandise of 6.25%, although local areas may add additional taxes between 1% - 3.5% on top of that. If candy contains flour, then it not classified as candy for tax purposes. Lollipops and Gummy Bears are taxed at the higher rate used for general merchandise, but any candy with flour in it is taxed as a qualifying food. For example, in Chicago, the highest sales tax rate is 9.25% and, the town of Cicero has the highest tax rate in the state at 9.75%.
Property taxes are high, with Illinois having the second-highest property tax rate in the country at 2.13%. That's a very heavy burden on Illinois seniors living in their own houses. There are multiple government authorities with the power to levy taxes – almost 8,500 – which is more than in any other state. Illinois also has an estate tax for estates worth less than $4 million.
The purchasing power in Illinois is a bit higher than the average in the nation. For example, what would cost you $99.30 in Illinois is what you would expect to spend $100 on in another state. The cost of living is lower in Illinois overall than it is in other states in every category except for utilities and. Groceries, housing, and miscellaneous items are all below the national average.
Some places to consider for Illinois Senior living:
- Galena, Illinois – this is a gorgeous, small town that is perfect for retirees. There are plenty of outdoor activities for you to enjoy the natural beauty that this town has to offer. There are beautiful homes, in both the French Colonial and Victorian Styles;
- Peoria, Illinois – located on the Illinois River with a population of close to 400,000, yet this town somehow keeps its intimate rural feel. There are local colleges which provide free cultural and educational opportunities as well for seniors participating in continuing education;
- Bollingbrook, Illinois – close to Chicago, with shopping opportunities and property values that are still appreciating. Seniors who love golfing will enjoy spending time at the Clubhouse, and there are plenty of free activities such as concerts and picnics;
- Champaign-Urbana, Illinois – although it is a college town, seniors who live here find that outside of downtown it is quite peaceful. If you are a senior who loves to constantly learn something new, the nearby college allows you to attend free lectures and other university-sponsored events; however, you can return to the quiet tranquility of your home away from the college life;
- Morris, Illinois – a town with a strong community feel and friendly people that provides activities for seniors and every other age group. The town offers transportation for seniors, and the cost of living is lower than one would expect.