Elderly residents at a home for seniors in Hermantown, Mn., were stunned over the revelation that an 89-year-old resident was drugged and raped in her bed by a young caregiver. The rape, which prompted outrage and calls for a state investigation, is among a series of incidents to occur at homes operated by Edgewood Management Group, a North Dakota company that has been cited more than 50 times over the last four years for cases of abuse or neglect, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The incident opens a window onto broader issues of maltreatment at assisted-living homes — a fast-growing and lightly regulated industry that now serves thousands of frail older Americans.
Three aides at an Edgewood Vista senior home in Virginia, Mn., slapped, pinched and taunted residents over a period of months. One dressed an elderly man up in a clown wig for a social event while others threw balls at residents. Edgewood, which is based in Grand Forks, N.D., and has 50 assisted-living communities in the Midwest, was not sanctioned or fined for dozens of violations. The lack of sanctions is emblematic of assisted-living homes, a sector of senior care that has escaped much of the regulatory scrutiny directed toward traditional nursing homes. “This is a systemic problem,” said Dr. Robert Kane, chairman of long-term care and aging at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. “The more we have these national [assisted-living] companies, the more we need to hold them accountable … and not just treat these as isolated incidents.”