DECATUR, Ala. - An elderly woman who suffers from Alzheimer's disease lived with her husband's body for a month after he died, not realizing what happened, authorities said Monday.
The body of Jesse Kirby, 76, was discovered Friday afternoon in his bed when police went to the home to check on the couple, said Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn.
Living inside the house was his wife, Doris Kirby, 78, who was hospitalized after the discovery.
The man had numerous health problems including heart issues and apparently died of natural causes in his sleep about four weeks ago, the coroner said.
The door was closed to the bedroom where the man died, Chunn said, and the woman continued living in other parts of the house with access to food.
"I don't think she even realized what was going on when (emergency medical workers) came to take her to the hospital," said Chunn.
Police saw the man's body through a window after going to the house in response to a relative who had been trying to contact the couple and could not reach them. Two dogs that apparently died of starvation were found in the bedroom also.
Neighbors were unaware anything was wrong, said Dean Hayes, who lives nearby.
"It's a shame all of us live right here and didn't know how bad his health was," Hayes said.
Hayes said the Kirbys were good neighbors but seldom went outside. Hayes said she saw Doris Kirby about two weeks ago.
"I had seen her on the porch and then going to the mailbox, so I thought everything was all right," she said.
Chunn said the man has two children who live in the Decatur area, but neither realized what had happened because their Kirbys were "sort of loners."
The children, who are grown, believed the man was taking care of the couple's needs, he said.