LETTER: Contact your representatives to stop elder abuse

To the Editor:

In Minnesota, 92,000 people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to soar more than 30 percent by 2025. On March 19, I joined Alzheimer’s advocates at the state Capitol to lend my voice on behalf of these Minnesotans.

My mother passed away at 56 when I was 20 years old from early onset dementia and died in a nursing home that wasn’t equipped to handle someone with her illness or age. When she passed away, my family requested an autopsy, but before it was completed, the hospital sent her body to be cremated. No one was held accountable for this because state law says that our family lost our right to pursue once our mother died. The safety of vulnerable adults is critical, which is why I spoke to my state legislators about the importance of protecting them from abuse. 

The Alzheimer’s Association, as a partner in the Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup, helped advocates urge state representatives and senators to pass a bill that not only requires dementia care standards, but also strengthens the rights of vulnerable adults and their families, enhances their criminal and civil remedies, and demands improvements in the Minnesota Department of Health.

I ask all of you to contact your politicians in Minnesota and ask them to support Senate File 3088 and House File 3468. This is the kind of broad reform Minnesota needs to improve quality of life in long-term care settings. Help stop the abuse of elders.

Alicia Berg, St. Paul

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