Key Differences Between Independent and Assisted Living Senior Centers

6:45 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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When someone calls 911, you expect the caller will follow the dispatcher's instructions. In addition, the dispatcher most likely expects the caller will assist with saving someone's life.

So, why didn't anyone save an elderly California woman who was dying? It's an obvious question when you read or watch this story.

WFMY News 2 discovered independent and assisted living communities are so different, they almost shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence. The situation in California happened at an independent living center.

In North Carolina, we have a lot of assisted living facilities, but not nearly as many independent centers.

Here's how the two differ:

Independent Centers:
*The state does not closely regulate independent living centers.
*Staff members are not required to know CPR or have any sort of health training or medical certification.
*They contract with other companies for basic medical care - from bathing to medication management.
*It is essentially like living in an apartment complex where all your neighbors are about the same age.

Assisted Living Centers:
*The state monitors these centers more closely.
*Staff members must have medical training
*There is always someone on property who knows CPR
*Centers must be ready to handle medical emergencies.
*More expensive than independent facilities.

How do you choose which is best for your situation? Start by talking with your loved ones doctor and then walk into the center you like with a list of questions.

Elder Law Attorney David McClean said, "What is your policy about providing treatment? Are they going to perform CPR? Are they going to find somebody to perform CPR? Or, are they going to simply have as a blanket policy, they are going to call 911?"

Brookdale Senior Living, the company that owns the senior center in California, also owns centers here in our state. According to the company's website, the locations in the Triad are all assisted living centers.

However, there are some independent facilities in Charlotte.

We reached out to Brookdale for comment, but have not heard back yet.

To view a brochure and see a checklist of things to look for when choosing a senior living center, click here.

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