I have been handling nursing home cases for well over a decade. My own dear grandmother suffered indescribably from a decubitus ulcer while in care of others. Morphine was her earthly savior from the pain she seemed larger than life to have endured as I was told.

An article I came across today by a mortician (found here) recalled those memories. The mortician described her most memorable, first death “experience” from a woman who came in with a bed sore the size of a football.


Those mortician’s words (found here) were powerful – even for me who has become at least a little “thick-skinned” after so many death and injury matters so I can focus on the legal issues and facts. These words shaved off what little thick skin I did develop and made me pause:

There are many ways for a corpse to be disturbing. Decapitated bodies are fairly gruesome, as are those dredged from the water after several days afloat, their green skin sloughing off in strips. But the decubitus ulcer presents a unique psychological horror. The word “decubitus” comes from the Latin decumbere, to lie down. As a rule, bedridden patients have to be moved every few hours, flipped like pancakes to ensure that the weight of their own bodies doesn’t press their bones into the tissue and skin, cutting off blood circulation. Without blood flow, tissue begins decay. The ulcers occur when a patient is left lying in bed for an extended period, as often happens in understaffed nursing homes.

Without some movement, patients will literally begin to decompose while they are still living, eaten alive by their own necrotic tissue. One particular body that came into the preparation room at Westwind, the crematory in Oakland that was my first job in the death industry, I will remember for the rest of my life. She was a 90-year-old African American woman, brought in from a poorly equipped nursing home, where the patients who weren’t bedridden were kept in cheerless holding pens, staring blankly at the walls. As I turned her over to wash her back, I received the ghastly surprise of a gaping, raw wound the size of a football festering on her lower back. It was akin to the gaping mouth of hell. You can almost gaze through such a wound into our dystopian future.

“Eaten alive by their own necrotic tissue” – a death toll, a slow death. Unnecessary. Simple turning and positioning and proper prevention is all that is necessary. Care. Make sure your loved one does not suffer what my own grandmother and others have. Make sure your loved one’s nursing home is not simply putting him or her into a “cheerless holding pen” without compassion and human dignity. It is easy to mistake sun-filled rooms and quiet for same.

You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may desire to discuss these difficult and sensitive nursing home care matters – in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages–BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters – large or small.

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