Dad Dies After Drinking Poison in Assisted Living

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Both Morgan and Emeritus agreed that one night, he opened a cabinet that was meant to be locked. No one seemed to know what happened until it was too late.

A caregiver found McAfee "sitting on the bed coughing and spitting up on a Kleenex and on the floor," said Morgan. "They asked if he was OK. They went about their merry business."

When his daughters arrived, his lips were "black and blue" and he could hardly speak. He died 10 days later at age 90.

McAfee's second daughter, Mary Jeanne Stouffer of Fort Worth, Texas, told ABCNews.com that the lesson learned is that adult children need to be advocates for loved ones -- but even then, tragedy can happen.

"The maddening thing about this entire incident is that Cheryl [who lived closer] ... saw him very frequently, popping in unannounced and voicing her concerns and complaints," Stouffer said.

Stouffer advised doing "homework" about complaints and investigations before picking a facility.

"Looking back on it, perhaps it would have been wise to investigate Emeritus," she said. "But truthfully, that never entered our minds."

Eric Boice, 48, had no idea his mother was covered in bed sores when he visited her several times a week at the memory unit at Emerald Hills in California in 2008. He won a $23 million judgment from a jury this year in a lawsuit against Emeritus for negligence and fraud in her care.

He said she was confined to bed and a wheelchair and always had a shawl or blanket placed over the wounds.

One of the nurses who cared for his mother told Boice she was "the worst case they had ever seen," he told ABCNews.com.

Joan Boice, 79, suffered from dementia and could barely feed herself. But because the facility was short-staffed, no one paid attention to how much his mother was eating and drinking, her doctors testified, according to "Frontline."

In three months, her health declined so badly that she fell face-down on the floor and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, according to her family.

Her son, a former policeman, hired an elder abuse attorney and sued Emeritus. He said that records of her care were difficult to obtain and had no mention of her wounds.

In the film, a neurologist said that her bedridden status, combined with not enough food and hydration, led to her death in a nursing home in 2009.

Eric Boice turned down a $3.3 million settlement from Emeritus to never speak about the case, and went on to win the $23 million verdict for negligence and fraud in her death in March.

Emeritus is appealing the jury award, according to Cobb, who said Joan Boice was attended by "at least" 30 other non-Emeritus professionals during her stay at Emerald Hills. None of them reported sub-standard care "as required by law" to facility supervisors.

"The wounds developed while she was in our community and we brought in the resources to attend to the wounds," said Cobb.

"We believe the judge [in the court case] allowed irrelevant testimony of an inflammatory nature and the jury reached incorrect conclusions," he said. "Her own physician indicated her condition as failure to thrive."

But Eric Boice said he regrets that he never "demanded more of the people we trusted with her care."

"I believe the best in people and if they say they are going to take care of something, I take them at their word," he said. "But that really doesn't happen in this industry. They say they will take care of your parents and they market these messages that they love your mom as much as you do. I truly believe this is elder abuse."

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