When it comes to health care, most people want to choose the option that works best for their needs, budget, and comfort level. Many seniors want to be able to stay in their home as long as possible, and in-home care can help them achieve that goal. Since 87% of adults 65 and over want to stay in their home, there are plenty of affordable options especially in the busy Chicago area.
There are over 150 home care agencies located in downtown Chicago and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Over 800,000 people are employed as home health aides in the US.
The city of Chicago offers in-home respite care for full-time family caregivers and seniors.
In 2015, the average salary of a home health aide was $21,920.
The average median salary for a homemaker in Chicago in 2015 was $50,336 which breaks down into roughly $22 per hour. This is based on The Genworth Cost of Care Survey's 44-hour work week at 52-weeks per year. However, what do homemaker services include?
Generally speaking, homemaker services take care of daily chores that you can no longer do on your own or need a little extra help with. These are by and large non-medical tasks that don’t require a skilled nurse to handle them. They can help with grocery shopping and meal preparation, pick-up medication from the drugstore, or help with other transportation errands. They can also handle things like:
Daily grooming and bathing
Light housekeeping and changing sheets and linens
Provide companionship and social interactions
Make observations about mood and demeanor and convey that to family members or other health workers
A homemaker is a great choice for seniors that are perfectly healthy or don’t need constant medical supervision but might have trouble getting around on their own.
The daily rate for a home health aide in Chicago is actually the same as homemaker services at $22 per hour. This is a lot less expensive than a nursing home which could run you $253 per day and even assisted living ends up being around $163 per day.
While home health aides can provide the same services as a homemaker they can also offer more specific medical care that can include things like wound care and bandage changes. They can do blood pressure checks, help with wheelchairs or walkers, and take care of medication reminders.
In the state of Illinois, home health aides must complete a state-certified training program in order to do their job. Along with classroom and clinical experience, they will have to pass a competency exam after the course is finished. Home health agencies also have to meet certain standards in order to be properly licensed and be trained in a variety of topics like infection control, emergency services, and seniors’ rights.
There are varying levels of help that you can get from a home service. You can have someone come over occasionally for a little light housekeeping or you can have someone there with you all day, every day. It all depends on your needs and most agencies will customize a package that works for you.
Respite Care: This can last from a few hours to a few days, it all depends on how long your primary caregiver needs to be away. This is also a good way to see how other people provide care and give you a test run to see if you would like to use this caregiver in the future.
Part-Time Care: Whether it’s a few hours each day or just a few hours each week, part-time care is good if you are still relatively mobile and can do most things on your own but need a little extra help with bigger tasks. This is also a good option for adult children who want to make sure their parents are taken care of but don’t need to have someone there 24/7.
Full-Time Care: This is your typical 40-hour work week and would mean that a caregiver is with you for the whole day. If you need to have a medical condition monitored or are bedridden from an illness or disease, this might be a good option. This can also be used as an overnight option in case you need to get out of bed in the middle of the night.
Live-In Care: This is the most intense form of in-home care and is usually reserved for those who cannot function on their own. You will have constant supervision in the comfort of your own home, usually between one or two different caregivers that come for the day and the night shift.
You have two options when it comes to in-home care, you can use an agency or you can hire directly yourself. Agencies offer the benefit of taking care of everything for you including the interview process, background checks, insurance and taxes. You don’t have to worry about any of that when you use an agency. On the other hand, hiring your own caregiver gives you complete control of who is in your home and is a good option, if you want to be able to pay family members who provide care.
Make sure you read reviews of all the agencies you’re considering and check reputable sites like the Better Business Bureau of Illinois and Chicago. Talk with friends or family who have used in-home services before and remember if you don’t feel comfortable with the people providing your care, you can choose another agency or caregiver.
If you have a chronic condition that requires supervision or skilled nursing, your long-term care insurance can cover the cost of a home health aide. Veterans and widows of veterans can check their VA benefits to see if there is any financial coverage there and low-income seniors that qualify for Medicaid might be able to get some coverage there.
If none of those options work for you and you have a house, you might want to consider a reverse mortgage but you will have to meet with an HUD-certified agent to understand all the risks. Cashing out a life insurance policy could also be an option, but that has tax and inheritance consequences so make sure you evaluate the risks beforehand.
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