Exploring senior living options close to home in the western suburbs
Whether you are contemplating your own retirement or assisting an older loved one, exploring the options for senior living can be complicated. The good news is that the western suburbs offer everything under the sun when it comes to retirement communities and elder care facilities. We’ll take you on a quick tour.
Understand Your Choices
The continuum for senior living ranges from active senior residences for those age 55 or older to skilled nursing facilities for those requiring round-the-clock access to medical care. In between are services designed to keep seniors living at home as long as possible and as independently as their situation allows.
For seniors who require some help with activities of daily living, having a home health aide come by several days a week may be all that is needed. For adult children caring for aging parents, services such as respite care and adult day care can offer relief from the daily stress of caregiving. Respite care refers to a short-term stay in an elder care facility, while adult day care offers structured activities and meals in a community setting. Following a hospitalization, some seniors need a few weeks in rehabilitation, which means short-term skilled nursing care.
Assisted living is often the first step after independent living arrangements, providing meals and personal care. People with serious health issues, however, may require skilled nursing or specialized memory care facilities, depending on their medical conditions.
At The Garlands of Barrington and other continuing care retirement communities, all of the options are available to residents. “The first thing we like to do, whether the person is a prospect or a family member, is to really get to know that person and their reason to make a move,” explains Dawn Kempf, vice president of sales, marketing and health care. She helps the family determine “where that person is going to best fit and succeed.”
Know When It’s Time to Move
Perhaps one of the hardest decisions to make is leaving the place you have called home for many years.
At Villa St. Benedict in Lisle, Director of Nursing Lori D’Auben sees families wrestling with the decision of whether to help move parents out of their homes. “It’s a very emotional thing — the sense of loss of independence,” she says. “We partner with families to determine what level of care is needed.” Often, a crisis precipitates the move. “We see those who are coming in more needy, later in life, with more frailty.” She relates that the nursing staff observes some level of physical and cognitive issues with residents in all levels of the facility, from independent living to assisted living to memory care and nursing care. On an occasional visit, family members may not see the problems, such as the resident wandering at night or losing keys repeatedly. Staff regularly assess each resident and help families decide when it is time to move up to the next level of care. “We have the core values of hospitality, stewardship, respect and justice,” says D’Auben of the Catholic institution, all of which guide its approach to care.
The Area Agency on Aging offers free care coordination and an in-home assessment to determine an individual’s need for assistance and/or ability to remain at home. State and federal governments fund services for seniors through 13 Area Agencies on Aging in Illinois, including one for suburban Cook County and another for Northeastern Illinois, which covers DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Grundy, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
According to Marla Fronczak, executive director of the Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging, “AAAs develop and coordinate comprehensive systems of home and community-based services to enable older adults with chronic illnesses and disabilities to live in the least restrictive settings and avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions and placements in long-term care facilities.” The in-home assessment is free to Illinois residents age 60 and up and evaluates the ability to accomplish activities of daily living, such as bathing and meal preparation, the accessibility of the home for a disabled person, income constraints, chronic health conditions and cognitive abilities.
“Our goal is to keep people in the community safely,” Fronczak shares. To do so, the agency offers a variety of supportive services for seniors living independently, such as transportation and meal delivery. Some services, such as in-home care, are available only to those who would otherwise need a nursing home and who have total assets of $17,500 or less, not counting a home and car. Fronczak observes that many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay for long-term care. Medicaid is the only government funding available for skilled nursing care and is only for those who have virtually no financial resources.
For information on services from a local Area Agency on Aging, call 800 528-2000 or visit www.ageguide.org for northeastern Illinois. For suburban Cook County, call 800 699-9043 or visit www.ageoptions.org.
When looking at senior living options, be prepared for sticker shock. The monthly costs go up with the level of care provided. For example, 2017 Cost of Care estimates for the Chicago area, provided by Genworth Financial, place a private, one bedroom assisted living facility at $4,695 per month, while a private room in a skilled nursing home runs $8,517. In comparison, adult day care costs $1,562 per month. You can compare costs of elder care facilities in Illinois online at www.livingpath.com and www.mylifesite.net.
Kempf explains that contracts for living arrangements and services differ among retirement communities, so you’ll want to look carefully at the details before signing up. If you’re moving into a continuing care retirement community, there is likely to be a significant entrance fee and monthly fees that vary with the type of residence needed.
A “life care” or Type A retirement community will require a higher upfront investment and higher monthly fees but will guarantee care for life, including skilled nursing, at basically the same monthly fee. The Garlands offers a Type B contract, which is more flexible. Type B facilities tend to require a lower entrance fee and lower monthly fees but charge more when assisted living or skilled nursing care are required. The Garlands allows residents 90 days of skilled nursing care at no extra charge. Kempf notes that new residents can enter into independent or assisted living or memory care, but not directly into skilled nursing. She describes Type C as rental communities, which operate under fee-for-service contracts with costs that fluctuate with the level of care and services.
Take a Tour
When considering retirement living options, it’s a good idea to do your homework and then select a few facilities to visit. Retirement community representatives are happy to give educational tours to family members, caregivers and potential residents alike. Look for the amenities that suit personal preferences and lifestyle, such as golf or art classes. The goal of retirement living, after all, is to live the best life you canfor as long as you can.Edit Module