Life and Death in Assisted Living: "A Sinking Ship"

On Sept. 30, 2008, an employee at the Emerald Hills assisted living facility in Auburn, Calif., made an entry in a company computer log: “pressure ulcer/wound.”

Joan, who had spent just 19 days in the facility, had developed the wound on her foot. The fall eight days earlier had hospitalized her and left her with bruises and an abrasion on her right temple. This, though, could be much, much worse.

Pressure ulcers — also known as bed sores — can form when a person loses the ability to move about freely. Lying in bed or sitting in a chair for long stretches of time diminishes the blood flow to the skin, causing it to break down and die. A hole grows. If bacteria creep into the wound, the bugs can devour flesh or invade the blood and bones. Pressure ulcers can turn fatal, particularly in older people.

Because of the lethal potential of pressure ulcers, the federal government monitors them closely in the nursing home business. In the eyes of experts, the sores are often an indicator of poor care. Attentive caregivers can prevent many pressure sores by making sure that people don’t spend too much time in the same position.

“We know that most bed sores are avoidable,” said Kathryn Locatell, a forensic geriatrician who investigates allegations of elder abuse for California Department of Justice. “That is the consensus of experts in the field.”

Emerald Hills was supposed to contact Joan’s doctor when she developed the ulcer. But nobody from Emerald Hills called a doctor. No nurse came to salve Joan’s wound. And nobody told Joan’s relatives — her husband, Myron, who lived in the same facility, or her son who lived nearby — about the development.

Joan’s short, painful stay at Emerald Hills seemed to be accelerating her decline.

Full Article and Source:
Life and Death in Assisted Living:  “A Sinking Ship”

See Also:
Life and Death in Assisted Living:  “They’re Not Treating Mom Well”

Life and Death in Assisted Living:  “The Emerald City”


7 Responses to “Life and Death in Assisted Living: "A Sinking Ship"”

  1. Penny Says:

    What a title. It really says it all and expresses family's feelings when having to put their loved on in an ALF or facility of any kind. We want them home and we want them safe. And yet we realize we can't always have that and it tears at us.

  2. Joecitizen Says:

    It appears that once again, profits and poor regulation are the villains here.

  3. Angi Says:

    I just watched part 1 — very impressive and so scary too.

  4. Phyllis Says:

    I just watched Part 1 too and I will be sure to watch the other episodes.It's very well done. I agree with your Joecitizen.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    This is so sad…my heart goes out to the frustrated workers as well as to the unfortunate victims of negligence. This type of care is seen frequently in guardianship cases in Cook County, IL (Chicago). Wards are placed in favored public aid nursing homes, and estates are spent down on attorneys and guardian fees. Visit and

  6. Ramiro Says:


  7. Anonymous Says:

    No matter if some one searches for his vital thing, so he/she needs to be available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.My website … assisted living chicago il (

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