Tag Archives: independence


Fifty years ago, subdivisions were sprouting in the cornfields and bean fields in Illinois. The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of rapid growth in the housing stock at the edges of major metropolitan areas such as Aurora, Rockford, and Bloomington-Normal.

Ranch houses, tri-levels, and two-story homes were popular styles. Most had attached garages, and the backyards were often enclosed with chain link fences. The homeowners planted shade trees on the boulevard and in the backyard. They spent time and money mowing, watering, and fertilizing the grass. They took pride in ownership of a beautiful new home.

Margaret, her husband, and their four children lived in one of these new houses. She was a stay-at-home mom, and her children were allowed to be free range children. That meant they roller skated on the sidewalks, shot basketballs into hoops mounted on rooftops above the garages, and played baseball on the diamond at the elementary school. The boys on the street made a go-cart out of wood and an old lawnmower chassis and gave rides to the younger boys.

AND THERE WERE THE DIRT HILLS. Since this was a new subdivision, the last row of houses backed up to a large piece of vacant land. The builder had dug a retention pond, installed concrete sewer pipes, and piled up a huge mound of dirt next to the retention pond. Many a young boy rode his dirt bike down from the top of the mound of dirt. In fact, some became so skilled that they could ride at full speed down the dirt hill and land on a raft in the lake.

The children grew up, got married, and moved away. Margaret and her husband continued to live in the house. When Margaret was in her late seventies, her health began to fail. She could no longer climb the steps into the house so her husband built a ramp in the garage.

As Margaret’s illness progressed, she needed 24/7 care from CNAs who came to her home. This was a tremendous help to Margaret and to her husband. It allowed her to continue to stay in her own home for a period of time. Later, she was admitted to a hospital and died there at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses and (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

To hear the Beatles, the English rock band, sing “With A Little Help From My Friends” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, go to With A Little Help From My Friends—You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C58ttB2-Qg.

—By Karen Centowski


When Elaine retired in her seventies, she and her husband, Ernie, lived in their home on a tree-lined street across from a grade school. The sight and sounds of the children playing on the playground brought joy to their lives.

Elaine had filled the front yard with beds of tulips and daffodils, garden gnomes, and ornamental shrubs. A small tree with arching branches stood by the sidewalk to the front door. A long row of lilacs arched along the property line from the street to the garage in the back yard. It was an oasis, a quiet spot away from the traffic noise on the busy city street three blocks away.

Elaine’s husband died when he was in his eighties, but Elaine continued to live in the family’s home. For many years, she was able to live by herself in the home. Then, as she grew older, she had to quit driving. She also needed help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, and cleaning the house.

Years before this, Elaine had bought long-term care insurance. An article called “Aging or Rehabilitating at Home is possible” states that “Most people still mistakenly associate long-term care insurance with nursing homes. In fact, just the opposite is true. According to the LTC Sourcebook published by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, some 7.6 million individuals currently receive care at home because of acute illnesses, long-term health conditions, permanent disability, or terminal illness. By comparison, there are over 1.8 million individuals in nursing homes.”

Because she had purchased long-term care insurance, Elaine was able to employ Certified Nursing Assistants to come to her home to help with the tasks of daily living. Some were young women who were planning to become nurses. Others were women with families of their own.

Each CNA brought her own talents and skills. Several were excellent cooks who prepared dishes served in their homelands. One loved Christmas and helped Elaine assemble and decorate a huge Christmas tree in her living room.

Elaine had few bad things to say about her CNAs. One complaint involved food. Elaine was Irish, and she was accustomed to having baked potatoes frequently. If the CNAs prepared potatoes at all for her, they prepared scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin or fried potatoes or some other fancy recipe. Elaine would say, “All I want is a baked potato. How hard is it to wash a potato, wrap it in aluminum foil, and bake it in the oven for an hour?”

With the help of the Certified Nursing Assistants, Elaine was able to stay in her home until her death at age ninety. She was alert and vibrant until the end.

American Home Health employs Certified Nursing Assistants to work eight hour shifts in the homes of clients. All CNAs must complete the usual application process. In addition, CNAs must pass a fingerprint-based criminal background check. If you or a family member needs the services of a CNA, contact American Home Health at (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski