Assisted living facilities can be a winning option for those that are in need of a little help around the house, whether that need is driven by a physical aid requirement or by a desire to spend more time being social and leisurely and less time focused on chores and home maintenance. While this latter metric can be the prime mover for active and independent seniors, those that need aid can take comfort in knowing that these special facilities can offer aid for essential daily tasks, such as housekeeping, transportation, meal and medication preparation, and a wide host of activities for daily living, otherwise known as ADLs.

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The cost of assisted living in Chicago

According to the 2015 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, Chicago’s assisted living scene is more expensive when compared to the national average. This metric is not too surprising, when you consider that The Windy City is the third-largest city in the United States and is one of the prime movers of national commerce. The city’s average assisted living price is $58,740, which is much higher than the nationwide average price tag of $43,200 per year. This cost breaks down to roughly $4,900 per month and about $161 per day. Still, this price metric makes assisted living a competitively priced option in comparison to skilled nursing care - particularly if the senior does not necessarily need that kind of intensive attention in order to function from day to day. If anything, assisted living care is significantly more cost-effective than nursing home care, as the latter service typically runs about $82,000 for a semi-private room and around $92,000 for a fully private room.

For qualified veterans and their spouses, further assisted living savings may be obtainable via the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit, which can otherwise be known as the A&A Pension Benefit. This special benefit can provide a veteran up to $1,788 per month, a surviving spouse up to $1,149 per month, or a couple up to $2,120 per month. Furthermore, a veteran with a sick spouse that applies for the program is eligible to receive up to $1,406 per month. The process to qualify for the A&A Pension Benefit is relatively simple.

Eligible veterans or surviving spouses of eligible veterans must show the need for help with activities for daily living, otherwise known as ADLs. Some of these activities include bathing, cooking, dressing, medication management, leaving the house for errands and appointments, and grooming. With that being said, seniors do not need to demonstrate that they need help for all of these activities. Aid and Attendance funds can assist in paying for ADL services in numerous places, such as an assisted living community, skilled nursing home, or within the confines of the senior’s own home. For those that are interested, it should be noted that the application process could take several months from beginning to end, but retroactive payments are sent upon the program’s approval.

What can you expect?

Every assisted living facility takes a different approach to providing care to people, even though each facility does possess its own unique personality. Some of this personality is dictated by the neighborhood or community that the facility is located in, such as the densely populated Lincoln Park or the flourishing Near West Side. You’ll typically find the distinctive characteristics in the various a la carte services that are offered on top of the services that are included with the monthly facility fees.

What’s included in assisted living?

The following services are typically included with room and board:

  • Private living quarters. These can range from a simple room to a multi-bedroom space similar in size to a small house. Typically, these spaces will be a 1-bedroom apartment or a studio.
  • 24-hour security and supervision. These include on-call nursing services and on-site security
  • Emergency call systems in each apartment should the need to summon help arise.
  • Daily meals and snacks. Typically, these are served restaurant-style in a centralized dining area.
  • Housekeeping and laundry services. These services usually include some sort of weekly cleaning and weekly linens change.
  • Basic utilities, such as water, natural gas, and electricity.
  • Wellness and fitness programs. This can range from traditional services like an on-site fitness facility to more modern programs like yoga.
  • Medication services. This includes reminders on taking medication at the proper time as well as reminders on refills.
  • Shopping and transportation assistance. This is usually doled out on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • Social and recreational activities. These include things like movie nights, game nights, religious services, and fieldtrips to museums and points of interest, such as the shops along the Magnificent Mile or the network of museums found in Grant Park.

What may be available for an extra fee?

For an additional fee, senior age residents can also obtain additional perks at many of these facilities. While the specific options may vary from facility to facility, the typical choices include things like personal laundry service, private transportation, beauty salon appointments, and massage sessions.

The continuum-of-care option

Another option that veteran seniors may want to be mindful of is what is known as a continuum of care. This term describes a venue that can accommodate residents with multiple stages of assisted living, from short-term rehab and assisted living to long-term skilled nursing care of specialty care for severe ailments like dementia. Residents that live in these communities typically have to deal with fewer large moves if their needs or health concerns change, and they will also remain in familiar surroundings if they do have to be transported to a different on-site building as their needs evolve. It should be noted that the various types of care offered at these special types of facilities are priced differently, even if they are within the same facility.

Resources and points of interest for veterans

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs provides aid in helping senior veterans navigate the VA benefits system, which includes helping them find assisted living facilities. The organization also enables veterans to volunteer to help fellow vets get through the benefit system.

Chicago also offers plenty of military-themed points of interest that may be relevant to the interest of senior veterans. Arguably, the most famous of these is Navy Pier, which is the most visited attraction in the city. While it is lined with various dining and shopping opportunities, its ties to its days to the U.S. Navy during World War II still resonate. And when Soldier Field is not hosting a game for the city’s beloved Chicago Bears football team, it is available for tours that lead people past several military-themed artifacts and war memorials.