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Relatives Of Elder Abuse Victims Give Powerful Testimony At Capitol Hearing

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Dozens of families demanded action at the State Capitol Wednesday after their loved ones were abused in Minnesota senior care facilities.

The Minnesota Senate hearing room was filled with families, many of them weeping openly. All of those who testified described in detail what happened to their loved ones.

Kent Edwards displayed his mother's image, and her ashes. He described how hard it was to get anyone to listen to his complaints about nursing home abuse.

"She was taunted, abused, threatened to be burned to death, stripped down naked, mocked for her body," he told lawmakers.

Others, like Irene McCormick, were forced by their senior care facilities to move out for making too much trouble.

"So I took her to an assisted living that was more homey, and while she was there, they dropped her and they broke her femur in half," she said.

And some, like Lisa Papp-Richards, resorted to hidden cameras.

They were confiscated by the care facility, which she says retaliated against her mother.

"I can deal with a lot," Papp-Richards said, "but this I need help with."

The Minnesota Senate is now considering emergency legislation to overhaul how the state monitors abuse.

"Elder abuse can happen to anyone -- a loved one, a neighbor -- and as we age, it could happen to us," said Cheryl Hennen, the Minnesota long-term care ombudsman.

The Senate Committee on Aging and Long Term Care is investigating how the State Health Department dropped the ball on thousands of abuse complaints.

The department announced this week that it is making major headway on a backlog of those cases, many of them left un-investigated for years.

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