Bertha Jones, a 71-year-old woman who was blind, deaf, and confined to a wheelchair for her entire life, died of protein calorie malnutrition while in the care of a group home, according to a $25 million lawsuit filed by her family. The Community Spirit Group home, located in Van Buren Township, Michigan, had been taking care of Bertha since 1983. Bertha’s family alleges that she was starved to death over a two and a half month period due to neglect from the group home’s staff.
According to BJ’s niece, Charlene Jones, the staff at the group home did not provide BJ with proper care, including adequate nutrition. “Why do they treat her like that? She didn’t deserve that,” Charlene said. “All they had to do is just take care of her. She wasn’t violent. She couldn’t back talk. She couldn’t give you a hard time. If you fed her, everybody knew, BJ loves to eat.”
An attorney for BJ’s estate, Albert Dib, believes that the home was understaffed, and that the workers who did show up were not qualified to care for BJ.
The lawsuit alleges that BJ’s death was caused by “protein calorie malnutrition.” The family also learned that the group home had not been licensed over the past ten years and had residents, like BJ, sign a simple contract for care. According to Dib, by relinquishing their licensure, the home was no longer obligated to be held to the standards required of a licensed group home, which he believes is a dangerous proposition.
When contacted by FOX 2, the Community Spirit Group did not answer the door, but instead called the cops. Charlene is haunted by what happened to her aunt and is urging other families with loved ones in homes like this to keep a close eye on their care.
The neglect of elderly and vulnerable individuals in care homes is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, including neglect, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, and physical abuse. Neglect is the most common form of elder abuse, and it can result in serious health consequences, including malnutrition, dehydration, and infections.