elder care

When an assisted living home in California shut down last fall, many of its residents were left behind, with nowhere to go.

The staff at the Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.

"There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, 'What are we going to do?' " Rowland says.

"If we left, they wouldn't have nobody," the 34-year-old Alvarez says.

Their roles quickly transformed for the elderly residents, who needed round-the-clock care.

When we picture hungry Americans, we may see the faces of children, or single moms. But many of the people who struggle to fill their bellies are beyond age 65. Some of them are even malnourished, a condition that sets them up for all kinds of other health risks, like falling.

Malnutrition may go undetected — by the general public and by doctors — until the seniors show up in the emergency room, often for an injury or other reason.