Home to the city of Chicago with its museums, cultural opportunities and many shopping destinations, as well as a large number of smaller suburban and rural communities, the Land of Lincoln continues to appeal to seniors. Around 16.1% of the 12.6 million people who live in Illinois are age 65 and older. The state is home to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which is eighth in the nation for senior care based on data from U.S. News and World Report.

Ranking eighth in the nation for quality of life and ninth for transportation on our 2022 Senior Living Report, Illinois has much to offer its senior population. The state’s low marks for affordability and community involvement earned it a ranking of 30th overall. It also has low rankings for affordability, but the cost of assisted living is a little below the national average at $4,488 a month.

This guide for assisted living in Illinois tells older adults the costs of residential care in Illinois, while also providing guidance about options to pay for that care. It highlights  local and government agencies that offer services for seniors and features the laws covering assisted living in the state.

The Cost of Assisted Living in Illinois

According to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, Illinois has a slightly more affordable cost of assisted living care in comparison to national averages. Seniors in the state pay an average of $4,488 a month, compared to the national average of $4,500. However, the state’s average is higher than all of its neighbors, with the exception of Wisconsin. In Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa, seniors pay an average of $3,448, $4,283, $3,000 and $4,367 a month, respectively. Wisconsin is the only more costly neighbor with an average of $4,600.

$4488

Illinois

$4500

The United States

$3000

Missouri

$3448

Kentucky

$4283

Indiana

$4367

Iowa

$4600

Wisconsin

Throughout the state of Illinois, assisted living costs vary depending on the location. The most costly community in the state is Rockford, near the Wisconsin border, which averages $5,250 a month. This is followed closely by Bloomington at $5,160 a month and the capital, Springfield, at $5,110. The most affordable costs are in the far southern area of the state, Carbondale, which averages $3,525. Other cities are closer to the state’s average. Chicago, the largest city, averages $4,825 a month, while Danville averages $4,138 and Kankakee averages $4,623.

$4488

Illinois

$3525

Carbondale

$4138

Danville

$4623

Kankakee

$4825

Chicago

$5110

Springfield

$5160

Bloomington

$5250

Rockford

Assisted living is just one care type available to seniors in Illinois. The most affordable choice is to take part in an adult day health care program, which allows the senior to visit a care center during daytime hours. This averages $1,885 a month. Assisted living care averages $4,488, Some seniors will choose to age at home, but hire someone to come into the home to provide home care or home health care, which includes basic medical assistance at home. The average cost for both of these is $5,339 a month. Nursing home care averages $6,266 monthly for a semiprivate room.

$4488

Assisted Living

$1885

Home Care

$5339

Home Health Care

$5339

Adult Day Health Care

$6266

Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Does Medicaid Cover Assisted Living in Illinois?

Medicaid in Illinois does not directly pay for assisted living costs. However, there is a waiver program that seniors can use to pay for care in an assisted living setting. The Illinois Supportive Living Program allows low-income older adults to pay for assisted living care using Medicaid funds.

What Assisted Living Services Are Covered by Medicaid in Illinois?

Under the Illinois Medicaid waiver program, income-qualified seniors living in assisted living facilities or residential treatment facilities can receive money to pay for:

  • Daily living activities help
  • Health support
  • Medication management
  • Recreation and social services

The senior must pay for their room and board at the assisted living facility, but the rest of the assisted living services are part of the waiver program.

Applying for this program involves three steps:

  1. Pre-admission screening that shows a need for supportive care.
  2. Assessment of functional risks and needs to see if the SLP setting can meet them.
  3. Income evaluation and tuberculosis test.

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in Illinois

Illinois Supportive Living Program

The Illinois Supportive Living Program provides coverage to pay for the services Medicaid normally does not cover. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is in charge of the Supportive Living Program. Through this waiver, seniors can get financial help for almost all assisted living costs, and this may include:

  • Personal care
  • Intermittent nursing care
  • Meals and snacks
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Social and health activities
  • Recreation services
  • Staff to meet residents needs 24 hours a day

The program does not pay for room and board. This is the responsibility of the senior. In addition, the senior must spend all but $90 a month of their remaining income to pay for their assisted living costs before receiving help from this program. To receive SLF funds, seniors must receive assisted living services at a qualified Supportive Living Program Provider Site.

To qualify for this program, a senior must be age 65 or older or a younger senior with a physical disability. They must also meet financial criteria and be eligible for Medicaid.

To learn more, seniors can contact the Department of Healthcare and Family Services at (217) 782-0545 or contact them via email at hfs.webmaster@illinois.gov.

How To Know If You’re Eligible for Medicaid in Illinois

Medicaid eligibility is based on several factors, starting with income. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services determines legibility if a senior is not receiving Supplemental Security Income. Those that are will get screened for Medicaid with their application for SSI through the Social Security Administration.

In 2022, single applicants for Illinois Medicaid must have an annual pre-tax income of no more than $17,775. A married couple can earn $24,040 a year.

 2022 Medicaid Income Limits for Seniors in Illinois

Income Limits* 

Asset Limits

Single Applicant

$17,775

$2,000

Two-Person Household
(Only One Person Applying)

$24,040

$3,000

$109,560 for non-institutionalized spouse.

Two-Person Household
(Both People Applying)

$24,040

$3,000

*Per year

In addition to these requirements, applicants must:

  • Be U.S. citizens or legal aliens
  • Need insurance assistant
  • Reside in Illinois
  • Have a documented need for health support and assistance with the activities of daily living.

How To Apply for Medicaid in Illinois

Individuals can apply for Medicaid online through the Application for Benefits Eligibility portal (ABE). Applicants can also call the ABE hotline at (800) 843-6154 to get help applying for Medicaid. In 2022, paper applications are not possible. However, seniors may need to submit documentation after filing the online application.

Information You Will Need

Before starting the application, individuals should gather the following information:

  • Social Security number
  • Proof of income, including Social Security or Supplemental Security Income
  • Policy numbers for Medicare or other insurance
  • Proof of citizenship or legal alien status
  • Proof of Illinois residency
  • Photo I.D.
  • Proof of assets, including bank accounts and retirement funds

How To Get Help Applying for Medicaid

Illinois residents who need assistance with their Medicaid application have a few resources they can tap to get that assistance. These programs and agencies will assist seniors in finding the right care plan, fighting unfairly denied applications or applying for Medicaid for the first time.

Resource 

Contact 

Description 

(800) 843-6154

The ABE Hotline will assist applicants with the online application process if needed. It will also connect Illinois residents with their local Department of Healthcare and Human Services office.

(217) 277-2100

Through Illinois Legal Aid, seniors may be able to get free legal help to understand their rights regarding Medicaid coverage. The group also provides a significant amount of free information online to help Medicaid recipients and applicants understand their options.

(800) 252-8966

The Legal Services department of the Illinois Department on Aging offers legal assistance in a number of areas, including conflicts over Medicaid. Providers who participate in this program advocate for those age 60 and older who need help to get their Medicaid application approved or to appeal a denial. Seniors can find their local Legal Services office by calling the Senior HelpLine, which is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living in Illinois?

The short answer is that no, Medicare does not cover the cost of assisted living in Illinois. Assisted living facilities are considered to be a “residential setting” and not a “clinical setting,” (think nursing homes). While Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of care received in an assisted living community, it does still cover things like approved medications, doctor visits, medical equipment, etc., just like it would if you lived at home.

For more information about when Medicare can be used to pay for senior living in a nursing home, and for Medicare-related resources, see our guide to Nursing Homes in Illinois.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Assisted Living in Illinois

Seniors who are not eligible (due to location, financial situation, or other factors) for other types of financial assistance, do still have some options. See the table below for an overview of some of the most common ways to make Assisted Living affordable.

.

How to Apply

How It Works

Aid and Attendance

Learn more and apply online at va.gov.

Veterans who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for Assisted Living.

Reverse Mortgages

Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov

If you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for Assisted Living. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance

Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Seniors who already have long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Assisted Living. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of Assisted Living will not typically be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Illinois

In addition to these, several nonprofit groups and government agencies provide programming, community-based services and financial and legal aid to seniors in the state of Illinois. Tapping into these free or low-cost resources gives seniors access to the help they need to not only pay for assisted living care but also protect their rights and interests while in an assisted living facility.

Resource

Contact

Service

(800) 252-8966

Illinois is divided into 13 Planning and Service Areas, and each of these is served by an Area Agency on Aging. These agencies coordinate programs for older adults that live in their service areas. They connect seniors to the local services, such as legal assistance and Information & Assistance programs in their local communities.

(800) 437-6641

Throughout the state, Veterans Administration centers connect veterans and their spouses to the senior care and residential options they qualify for, as well as other benefits earned through military service. There are several VA centers located throughout Illinois.

(800) 772-1213

Social Security offices in Illinois help seniors get the Social Security Income they should receive based on their work years. These offices are run by the federal government, but they can help seniors with their financial needs. Appointments are available to help seniors apply for Social Security benefits or to check the status of benefits.

(888) 831-0404

The Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program connects seniors living in assisted living and other long-term care facilities with advocates that will ensure they are receiving a high level of care. Representatives from the Ombudsman Program will help seniors and their families resolve issues or look into accusations of abuse and neglect with long-term care facilities. This program is free to any resident who needs it.

(866) 800-1409

Illinois Adult Protective Services coordinates with 40 provider agencies through the state to investigate any claims of abuse and neglect of seniors or disabled individuals. This program looks into instances of abuse and neglect that are outside of the boundaries of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. If someone suspects abuse, exploitation or neglect of a senior, they can call the number 24-hours a day to get immediate help.

(800) 252-8966

The Illinois Senior HelpLine is a hotline seniors or their family members can call at any time of the day to get help with accessing programs and services. The HelpLine will also listen to accusations of abuse and provide connections to services that can help. The primary goal of the Senior HelpLine is to connect seniors to the local information and assistance they qualify to receive.

COVID-19 Rules for Assisted Living in Illinois

The following information is based on research done on several government websites, including The Illinois Department of Public Health. These rules apply to nursing homes and other types of senior living facilities. We’ve most recently updated this data on 3/8/2022, but since COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving pandemic, contact your local senior living facility or Area Agency on Aging for more specific and up-to-date information.

Visitation Policies

Rules for Illinois Communities

Are loved ones allowed to visit to provide emotional support?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are relatives allowed to visit for end-of-life care?

Yes

Are residents required to quarantine after visiting with a loved one?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are visitors required to wear PPE (including masks) in order to visit residents?

Yes

Are non-medical contractors (such as hairdressers and entertainers) allowed in senior living facilities?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?

*Not Applicable

Are visitors checked for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are visitors required to answer questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

*Note: This information was not available for this state, contact your local area agency on aging or senior living facility for more information.

Outings & Social Activities

RULES FOR ILLINOIS COMMUNITIES

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?

Yes

Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?

No (Conditions Apply)

Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?

No

Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Staff and Residents

RULES FOR ILLINOIS COMMUNITIES

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?

Yes

Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?

Yes

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?

Yes

Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?

No

Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?

Yes

Are residents being tested for coronavirus?

Yes (Conditions Apply)

Assisted Living Laws and Regulations in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Assisted Living handles state licensure and oversight of assisted living facilities in Illinois. In order to maintain a license, these facilities must adhere to the following rules and regulations outlined in the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Establishment Code.

ILLINOIS LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Assisted Living Service Plan Requirements

Before admission to an assisted living facility, seniors must have an evaluation from a medical professional. Through this evaluation, the facility can determine if they are equipped to care for the needs of the resident. All residents receive a service plan that outlines the care provided.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

Only residents above the age of 65 or who have a physical disability can enter an ALF in Illinois. Residents must not pose a threat to themselves or others at the facility and they may not require total rehabilitation services or extensive nursing care.

Assisted Living Scope of Care

ALFs must provide housing, meals, housekeeping, laundry and security services. They also must provide assistance with activities of daily living. All residents must have emergency communication devices provided.

Assisted Living Medicaid Policy

The Illinois Supportive Living Program, a Medicaid waiver program, may be able to fund some of the costs of assisted living facilities in Illinois. To qualify, residents must meet medical and income guidelines. This funding covers all but room and board, but funds go to the resident to pay the facility. If a resident has other income, they must spend all but $90 a month on their assisted living costs.

Assisted Living Facility Requirements

All apartments in an ALF must have a locking door, emergency communication option, telephone jack and a view of the outside through a window or door. A bed in good condition, lighting and privacy corners are also necessary. All residents must have their own bathroom with working fixtures and assistive devices as required in their service plan. Apartments must have small kitchens.

Medication Management Regulations

Under the current Administrative Code, only licensed healthcare providers can administer medication. If a facility is going to offer medication management, then a qualified health professional must approve their handling methods. Staff that are not licensed cannot watch self-administered medication unless they report directly to a licensed healthcare professional. Medications have to be stored safely with proper labeling indicating the patient and dosing. All residents must have medication records that show when they took their medications.

Staffing Requirements

At all times, ALFs must have one staff member on-site who is trained in CPR. They also must always have at least one awake staff member. The state does not specify a particular ratio of staff members but does require that they are sufficient in number to meet the needs of residents.

Staff Training Requirements

All newly hired staff must have an orientation about the community and the basic requirements of care. Within the first 30 days, they must have training about resident service plans and activities of daily living. Eight hours of training every 12 months are required for all staff members.

Background Checks for Assisted Living

The Health Care Worker Background Check Act and Health Care Worker Background Check Code require ALFs in Illinois to perform background checks on their staff members. All staff members will also need a check against the Health Care Worker Registry.

Requirements for Reporting Abuse

Any instances of potential abuse must be reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health within 24 hours using the Assisted Living Complaint Registry. The person who is accused of abuse must be immediately terminated.

Assisted Living Facilities in Illinois (133)