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The Elder Abuse Crisis in Progressive Minnesota

by David Holmburg
I’m from Minnesota, and you might call me a loyalist. All my life, I’ve taken pride in the state’s reputation as a citadel of progressivism. It’s produced an impressive roster of socially conscious politicians—Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, Orville Freeman—and ranks at or near the top among the fifty states in social services, education, and cultural advantages.

But these days in Minnesota, there lingers the stigmatizing taint of elder abuse—the shocking (especially to a Minnesotan) revelation by the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis that “each year, hundreds of Minnesotans are beaten, sexually assaulted, or robbed in senior care homes. Their cases are seldom investigated, leaving families in the dark.”

A 2010 study showed a six-fold increase in reported incidents in the state’s senior care facilities, which may have been a catalyst for a 2017 investigation by the Star-Tribune that uncovered another disturbing statistic: in 2015, “the Minnesota Department of Health received 25, 226 allegations of neglect, physical abuse, unexplained serious injuries, and thefts in state-licensed homes for the elderly.”

Said a board member of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, Iris Freeman: “We should all be appalled at this picture. Minnesota used to be at the top of the heap when it came to elder-abuse enforcement, and now we’re becoming known for being non-responsive.”

But the state did mobilize its legislative, law enforcement, and senior care resources in response to the Star-Tribune’s investigation. It was a response you’d expect in a state with a strong collective instinct for change when change is demanded. It improved compliance standards, developed better programs for training and monitoring employees, and opened communications between law enforcement and other agencies.

“It haunts me,” her son, Robert, said two years ago of his mother’s assault, and her emotional suffering in the dwindling days of her life. “It haunts me.”

Eric Klang, the police chief in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, who investigated one of the worst elder-abuse cases in the state in recent years, told the Silver Standard: “Now elder abuse is on everybody’s radar. It’s on the news every night.”

An elder abuse advocate Susan Scheller said that while Minnesota still has less of a problem with elder abuse than many other states, “we expect a lot better.” Referring to the crisis in recent years that has only somewhat abated, she said, “This [situation] is not acceptable.”

The ultimate definition of “not acceptable’ in elder care—other than a suspicious death—is sexual assault. And that occurred on May 8, 2016, at an assisted-living complex called Heritage House, located in the northern Minnesota town of Pequot Lakes.

A 78-year-old resident of the facility named Jean Krause, a former nurse, was assaulted by David DeLong, 59, a caregiver at the facility, who had worked there for several years and had a clean record. DeLong was found that night by a female aide, a few feet from Ms. Krause, with his jeans and underwear at his knees. He was trying to pull them up.

No one at Heritage House called the police for two hours. DeLong, meanwhile, was sent home for the night.
Full Article and Source:
The Silver Standard News: The Elder Abuse Crisis in Progressive Minnesota

See Also:
The EARN Project (Elder Abuse Reform Now Project)

The Unforgivable Truth

This post first appeared on National Association To Stop Guardian Abuse, please read the originial post: here

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The Elder Abuse Crisis in Progressive Minnesota


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