Life and Death in Assisted Living: "The Emerald City"

Joan Boice needed help. Lots of it. Her physician had tallied the damage: Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, pain from a compression fracture of the spine. For Joan, an 81-year-old former schoolteacher, simply getting from her couch to the bathroom required the aid of a walker or wheelchair.

The Alzheimer’s, of course, was the worst. The disease had gradually left Joan unable to dress, eat or bathe without assistance. It had destroyed much of the complex cerebral circuitry necessary for forming words. It was stealing her voice.

Joan’s family was forced to do the kind of hard reckoning that so many American families must do these days. It was clear that Joan could no longer live at home. Her husband, Myron, simply didn’t have the stamina to provide the constant care and supervision she needed. And moving in with any of their three children wasn’t an option.

These were the circumstances that eventually led the Boice family to Emeritus at Emerald Hills, a sprawling, three-story assisted living facility off Highway 49 in Auburn, Calif. The handsome 110-bed complex was painted in shades of deep green and cream, reflecting its location on the western fringe of the craggy, coniferous Sierra Nevada mountain range. It was owned by the Emeritus Corp., a Seattle-based chain that was on its way to becoming the nation’s largest assisted living company, with some 500 facilities stretching across 45 states.

Emeritus at Emerald Hills promised state-of-the art care for Joan’s advancing dementia. Specially trained members of the staff would create an individual plan for Joan based on her life history. They would monitor her health, engage her in an array of physically and mentally stimulating activities, and pass out her 11 prescription medications, which included morphine (for pain) and the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel (given in hopes of curbing some of the symptoms of her Alzheimer’s). She would live in the “memory care” unit, a space designed specifically to keep people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia safe.

Full Article and Source:
Life and Death in Assisted Living:  The Emerald City

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5 Responses to “Life and Death in Assisted Living: "The Emerald City"”

  1. Betty Says:

    I am not looking forward to this series because I know it's going to be a tear jerker!

  2. honeybear Says:

    Sometimes, we have to cry, Betty, and get it out of our system. And then we get busy and start working toward change.

  3. Jean Says:

    I'm with you, Betty. But, we have to watch these things if we are to be proactive in making ALF's better.

  4. Cheri Says:

    This is awesome!

  5. Assisted Living Concept Westerville Says:

    I appreciate Emeritus for providing such a good care for people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease although I am feeling really bad for Joan. I hope she will feel better soon.

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