The AARP says Illinois has improved opportunities for elderly people to remain in the community. But it says there are still too many living in nursing homes who need not be.
There are good reasons for helping seniors to stay independent, or at home, getting help -- and out of long-term care facilities.
"Chief among them is, that people don't want to go into nursing homes. You won't meet very many seniors that will say 'You know, I really want to go into a nursing home,'" said AARP associate state director David Vinkler. "But it's also a much better option for the state because we're paying a much, much, much lower rate."
Vinkler says it costs about $1000 a month for someone to receive Medicaid at-home care, compared with around $3000 on average for a nursing home stay.
According to a just-published report from the AARP, Illinois is second-worst among states for having a high percentage of people in nursing homes with low-needs -- in other words, people who probably could instead be getting at-home care.
Numbers from the report also raise questions about whether nursing homes are over-using anti-psychotic drugs.
Vinkler says prescribing them is fine if someone has a mental health condition, but that isn't always the case.
"The reason we started measuring this was, the number of people that were being ... that were receiving anti-psychotic drugs, often didn't have those precursors for needing anti-psychotic drugs. So what was happening is, they found a use for the drugs in keeping people ... for lack of a better term more docile, and less active," he said.
According to the report, nearly 25 percent of Illinois' long-stay nursing home residents receive an anti-psychotic medication -- putting the state in the top three.
The AARP report seeks to measure how well states do in providing quality long-term care for the elderly. It measures everything from the number of home health-care workers to nursing home staff turnover to the affordability of care.
Illinois stacks up decently overall, ranking 15th.