Chicago Senior Living Guide

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We put The Chicago Senior Living Guide together to help people like you get focused on the most important issues you’ll face when choosing where you or a loved one will live in the Chicago area.

You’re not going to need to look far to find senior housing options that suit your lifestyle, short and long term goals, health, and budget because Chicago is big. Really big. It covers an area of 10,874 square miles!

Before you make a final decision, it’s critical to learn more about the many types of retirement housing and facilities that are available to seniors. This will give you the information you need to make a confident decision about Chicago senior housing that will suit you now and in the future. 

Chicago Senior Living

Finding senior housing in a big city like Chicago is fairly easy – there are SO MANY options. However, finding retirement housing in the Windy City that’s a perfect fit for you or a loved one can be challenging. 

Your biggest challenge is going to be evaluating the many types of retirement housing options and Chicago neighborhoods in an attempt to find the perfect Chicago senior living situation for yourself or a loved one. The good news is that you’re don’t need to feel alone in the process – we’re here to help you. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to us any time using the form to the right of this article.

Some Chicago seniors are happy living alone, as they’re independent enough to care for themselves and that’s how they like it. For them, senior apartments, retirement communities, and traditional housing can be a natural fit. 

But even after you decide on the type of senior housing you need, there are other important considerations, such as:

  • Location
  • Safety
  • Access to public transportation
  • Access to local activities

For example, access to public transportation is very important. As we age, driving a car will eventually become unwise and possibly unsafe. This is a tough issue because independence and the ability to get around without help from someone else are so closely linked. The unfortunate reality is that the older we get, the more reasons there are to consider handing over the keys and using public transportation. It’s a sad fact, but approximately 8,000 adults aged 65+ are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. And that doesn’t even account for the hundreds of thousands treated for injuries.

chicago senior living is safer when using wisdom choosing transportation options
For seniors who no longer drive, or just like the convenience of having a driver, Uber and Lyft are great options.

Below, you can learn more about three of the most common Chicago Senior Living Options. 

1. Senior Apartments in Chicago

When it comes to Chicago Senior Living, Senior Apartments are among the most popular choices. 

This arrangement allows residents to live independently, without the upkeep and maintenance associated with a condo, townhouse, or single-family home.

Furthermore, many Chicago senior living apartment facilities provide residents with transportation, on-site dining, and social events. This is in addition to on-site amenities that often include:

  • Swimming pool
  • Tennis court
  • Exercise room or gym
  • Housekeeping services

If you’re interested in a senior apartment for yourself or a loved one, here are three questions to answer:

  • How do you pay for a senior apartment? It varies from complex to complex, but most people opt for private payments, such as funds from retirement accounts and Social Security. Other options to consider include Section 202 federal housing and Section 8 housing.
  • Is there an age restriction in place? Generally, Chicago senior apartment complexes require residents to be 55+ or 62+, although there can be exceptions. However, with Section 202 federal housing and Section 8 housing, some tenants are permitted to be non-seniors, which may allow you to live with younger family members or friends.
  • How safe are senior apartments in Chicago? Senior apartments are designed from the ground up, both inside and outside, for safety. Furthermore, since most residents of senior apartments live independently, these complexes are typically healthy. 

While it’s important to consider all your senior apartment options in Chicago, these are among the most searched:

  • Hilliard Towers Senior Apartments
  • Kenmore Plaza ( Senior Building)
  • Highlands Tudor Manor

2. Chicago Retirement Communities

Retirement communities are hot, hot, hot! And that’s particularly true in large metro areas, such as Chicago, where there are a growing number of senior citizens interested in moving into such communities.

These communities come in many forms, ranging from single-family homes to condo units. While some units in some complexes are available for rent, most people who live in a retirement community are owners. 

There are many benefits of living in a Chicago retirement community, such as:

  • Opportunity to live among residents your same age
  • Access to a variety of services and amenities, such as transportation, snow removal, and clubhouse access
  • Long-term care availability, for those who require assistance with daily living tasks

As a more traditional living arrangement, residents of Chicago retirement communities pay with private funds, not those provided by the government.

Not only are local Chicagoans moving into retirement communities at a high rate, but they’re also attracting residents from all over the state (and country).

It’s worth your time to review the finer details of every Chicago senior living option before making a final decision on where you want to live. You can start your search here:

  • Vi at The Glen – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Covenant Living of Northbrook – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Bethany Retirement Community – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Presence Resurrection Retirement Community – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • The Admiral at the Lake – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • The Breakers at Edgewater Beach – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Montgomery Place Retirement Community – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Senior Suites of Jefferson Park – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Autumn Green at Midway Village – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080
  • Senior Suites of Kelvyn Park – Learn More – Call 866-311-0080

3. Traditional Housing Options For Chicago Seniors

The phrase “retirement housing” leads most people to think about senior apartments, retirement communities, and even long-term care facilities. While all of these Chicago senior living options should be considered, traditional housing is every bit as popular among seniors.

Traditional housing is the same type of living arrangement you’ve been used to your entire life. Maybe you choose to live in a high rise condo in downtown Chicago. Or maybe you opt for a single-family home in a suburb, such as:

According to Zillow, the median price of homes listed in Chicago is approximately $329,000, with the median sale price roughly $272,000. 

While this is higher than many regions throughout Illinois, it’s often best to purchase, as the median rent price in Chicago is $1,800.

Traditional housing is paid for with private funds, such as money you earn from a job, retirement accounts, pension, and savings. 

Long-Term Care Facilities

Long-term care facilities are designed for individuals who require daily living assistance or skilled nursing care.

There are several distinct types of long-term care facilities, so it’s critical to understand what each one offers its residents. For example, nursing homes and assisted living centers sound like the same thing, but some features make them unique to one another.

Note: some Chicago senior living communities provide long-term care services to residents. This allows them to remain in an independent setting, while still receiving all the medical care required to live their best life. 

1. Assisted Living Centers

It doesn’t matter if you call it an assisted living center or personal care home, the level of service is the same.

Generally, these centers are for individuals who don’t require skilled nursing but need some help with daily tasks, such as showering, bathing, and basic hygiene. 

Depending on the type of assisted living center, additional services may be available. For example, memory care is provided by many facilities, thus making them a popular choice among residents with dementia. 

Some assisted living centers partner with nursing homes, thus providing an all-in-one solution known as a continuum of care. 

2. Nursing Homes

As the name suggests, a nursing home is a facility at which residents have access to skilled nurse services. 

While daily life is structured to meet the special needs and requirements of the residents, it’s set up similarly as a hospital. 

Residents can receive basic medical care at a nursing home, such as blood pressure monitoring, medication monitoring, and wound dressing. Furthermore, they also have access to more advanced medical professionals, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists.

Chicago is well known for its large selection of nursing homes, with these facilities among the highest rated:

3. In-Home Senior Care

As you age, you don’t necessarily want to leave your home. In fact, you may want to stay put for as long as possible.

In-home senior care services make this possible, as they provide services ranging from health checks to round the clock nursing care. 

With in-home senior care, the price coincides with the level of service that’s required. So, there often comes a point when it’s no longer cost-effective for an individual to remain in their home.

Your doctor is a good source of information for in-home senior care services, but these companies have a longstanding reputation for providing high-quality care:

4. Independent Living Facilities

An independent living facility is designed to provide residents with access to safe, private housing, along with access to community-based services and facilities.

Unlike other forms of independent living, many of these Chicago senior living facilities offer on-site medical care services, along with basic housekeeping and maintenance assistance. 

Chicago independent living facilities aren’t the best option for people who require 24/7 medical care, but it’s a nice alternative to traditional housing and retirement communities. For many individuals, the mix of privacy, independence, and available healthcare makes for the best Chicago senior living situation. 

5. Chicago Continuing Care Retirement Communities

A continuing care retirement community, also known as a CCRC, is defined by AARP as follows:

Continuing care retirement communities, also known as CCRCs or life plan communities, are a long-term care option for older people who want to stay in the same place through different phases of the aging process.

It’s a popular choice among individuals who want to remain in the same community as they age, as they can gain access to varying types of medical services as necessary.

The majority of continuing care retirement communities are geared toward high net worth individuals, as initiation fees can reach well into the six figures. Furthermore, upon moving in, residents typically pay service fees of $2,500 to $5,000 per month.

If you’re interested in Chicago senior living options with continuing care, start your search here at Smith Village and The Moorings of Arlington Heights. 

6. Congregational Retirement Communities

Depending on your religion, you may want to consider Chicago senior housing offered through a congregational retirement community. As the name suggests, these retirement communities are aligned with specific religions, such as:

Speak with your church or synagogue leaders to learn more about congregational retirement communities in the Chicago area. They should be able to provide suggestions, along with contact information. 

Many people prefer a congregational retirement community as it allows them to receive some of the care they require, all while staying active with regular worship services, prayer services, and religious counseling. 

Note: the type of in-home and medical care provided by a congregational retirement community will vary, but most of the time it’s kept to a minimum. 

7. Hospice Care in Chicago

During the end stage of life, many people require specialized care, which often comes in the form of a hospice facility. 

Hospice care is offered in several forms, including:

Crossroads Hospice defines hospice care as follows:

Hospice is a philosophy of care. It treats the person rather than the disease and focuses on quality of life. It surrounds the patient and family with a team consisting of professionals who not only address physical distress but emotional and spiritual issues as well. Hospice care is patient-centered because the needs of the patient and family drive the activities of the hospice team.

As one of the largest cities in the country, both by size and population, Chicago is home to many hospice services, including but not limited to:

How to Choose Chicago Senior Housing

At this point, you know one thing to be true: there are a variety of Chicago senior living options in and around the Chicago area.

While it’s good that you have an overabundance of options, it can result in difficulties when making a final decision.

In addition to comparing the pros and cons of each type of retirement housing – which you did above – there are a variety of questions you can answer to help narrow your options. Here are 10 to get you started:

  • What type of retirement housing are you most interested in?
  • Are you choosing a Chicago senior living option that allows you to live alone or will you reside with someone else, such as a spouse?
  • Are you capable of living alone, or do you require medical assistance or help with your daily activities?
  • How much money can you comfortably afford to spend on retirement housing? 
  • Do you qualify for any public benefits, such as Medicaid or Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance, to help pay for Chicago senior housing?
  • Are you seeking housing in a particular area of Chicago, such as the Edgewater/Andersonville?
  • Are you interested in Chicago senior housing close to family and friends?
  • Does it make sense to choose housing where you can be around other residents your age?
  • Do you need to live in an area close to public transportation?
  • How will your decision affect your loved ones?

These aren’t the only questions to answer, but doing so will allow you to make a short-list of the types of Chicago senior living and locations that make the most sense for you. 

How to Pay for Retirement Housing

The sheer size of the city – combined with its 77 distinct Chicago neighborhoods – improves the likelihood of finding Chicago senior housing that suits your location requirements, personal wants and needs, and budget.

Chicago’s cost of living is 23% higher than the national average, however, if you’re used to living in this area, this won’t have much effect on you when searching for retirement housing.

The key to budgeting success is understanding the many ways you can pay for retirement housing. The approach you take depends largely on factors such as:

  • Current living situation
  • Monthly income, such as through Social Security benefits, retirement accounts, and pensions
  • Savings 
  • Access to government programs, such as Medicaid

For example, if you’re interested in buying a condo in Lake View, you’ll rely on private funds, such as your regular monthly income and savings to pay for the property and maintenance.

Conversely, if a stay in a nursing home makes more sense, you may be able to combine both private and public funds.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, citing a survey by Genworth Financial, the average cost of a private nursing home room is inching toward $100,000 per year.

Some of the most common methods of paying for nursing home care include:

  • Private funds
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Medicare (up to 100 days per illness)
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance

Just the same as any large purchase or major change to your finances, pre-planning is essential to pay for the type of retirement housing that best suits your needs. 

Chicago Senior Living FAQs

You now understand the finer details of each type of senior housing. You also understand that there will come a point when you must decide what type of living arrangement makes the most sense.

Since there’s no right or wrong answer as to which type of retirement housing is best, it’s critical to answer a variety of key questions as they pertain to your personal circumstances. 

While there is no shortage of questions to address, here’s a good place to start:

1. Are you able to live independently, at least for the time being?

This is a difficult question to answer on many fronts. 

To start, you need to be honest with yourself. If you’re not, it could result in you choosing the wrong type of retirement housing. 

Secondly, even if you are independent to the point of being able to live alone, it doesn’t mean this won’t change in the future. So, you need to make your Chicago senior living decisions accordingly.

If you’re on the fence – unsure of if you’re able to live independently – do these three things:

  • Consult with your doctor
  • Consult with your loved ones
  • Learn more about the services offered by each type of retirement housing

For example, you may not be able to live in a highrise condo any longer, but a retirement community may suit you well. This is a reasonable layover between your previous home and making a move to a nursing home or other type of long-term care facility.

2. How do you plan on paying for retirement housing?

This is the million-dollar question (no pun intended). Just because you’re interested in a particular type of retirement housing doesn’t mean that you can afford it.

The section above on “how to pay for retirement housing” provides a thorough overview of your options and how to begin a search based on your current and future budget.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you always have options to consider. For instance, if you don’t have the funds to purchase a single-family home in a retirement community, you may be able to opt for something more affordable, such as a senior apartment.

In regards to how you pay, make a list of all your income sources – both public and private – along with a breakdown of your expenses. This will give you a clear idea of how much money you can afford to spend on housing every month. 

3. Do you have any special requirements regarding features, amenities, and available services?

Choosing the type of Chicago senior housing you need is just the start. You must have a clear idea of the features, amenities, and services you want, as well as those that you need.

There are things you want, but don’t necessarily need. And there are things that you absolutely need, regardless of what it takes or how much it costs. 

An example of this is someone who wants to move into a retirement community with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and clubhouse. It would be nice to have access to all these amenities, but if you can’t afford it it’s best to look elsewhere.

In regards to needs, you may be interested in an independent living facility that provides basic housekeeping and maintenance related services. You need these things to live comfortably, as you’re no longer able to fully do everything on your own.

It’s much easier to make a final decision on retirement housing when you have a list of wants and needs in hand. 

4. What area (or areas) of Chicago are you most interested in living in?

Unlike some cities, you don’t have to look far to find retirement housing throughout the city of Chicago and its many suburbs.

There may come a point when you need to expand your search for Chicago senior housing, but starting with a shortlist of locations is a good start. 

For example, if you’re seeking traditional housing in a safe and convenient suburb, Western Springs, Northbrook, and Buffalo Grove are a good place to begin your search. 

But if you’re more interested in specialized housing, such as a continuing retirement community, you can’t be as selective, as your options are a bit limited.

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Location, location, location. This is a big deal when buying a home, as well as when choosing other Chicago senior living options. 

5. How will your decision on where to live impact others, such as your spouse or adult children?

For some people, they only have to consider themselves when choosing retirement housing. Others, however, need to keep their loved ones in mind, as their decision will greatly impact them, too.

Maybe you have a spouse that you want to continue living with, as neither of you requires around the clock care. Or maybe you understand that now’s the time to move into a nursing home, and you want to choose a facility close to your adult children and friends so they can visit you often.

As you focus on the type of retirement housing and location, your finances should also come into play. A common example is someone who can comfortably afford to pay for their own retirement housing, even though a family member is offering to pay. In this case, it’s important to hash out the details to ensure that everyone is on the same page and no one is put out. 

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