Sunday, June 28, 2009

Families in elder abuse case are using online networks

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging spread message By Sarah Stultz Albert Lea Tribune

The families of the alleged abuse victims at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea are reaching out on social networking Web sites to spread the message of reform in long-term care facilities across the country.

The families, who have formed under a group called Families Against Nursing Home Abuse, have pages on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. They also have videos on YouTube. One writes a blog.

At these sites, people can read reactions to elder abuse and get to know the alleged victims of abuse in words and photos.

Jan Reshetar, co-founder of the group, said she and the others decided to branch out to these Internet sources to enact changes on the local, state and national level.“We’re trying to get the community involved,” Reshetar said. “We’re trying to get the attention of our local people.”
Then, hopefully, once people get involved, they will call their state and national representatives and senators and voice their concerns.

At her blog, Reshatar wrote: “It’s been over one year since we first got the phone call that Mom ‘may or may not, be a victim of what may or may not be abuse.’ It’s been over 12 months … over 365 days … over 8,760 hours … over 525,600 minutes … over a lifetime ago.”
A description of the group on Facebook states Families Against Nursing Home Abuse is “committed to providing information and resources for the continuum of long-term care — from successful aging, to aging in the home, to assisted living, to hospice care, as well as nursing home care.”

They formed around the same time charges were filed in Freeborn County District Court in December 2008 against Albert Lea High School graduates Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson.

Broitzman and Larson, former Good Sam nursing assistants, each face at least 10 charges related to the alleged abuse of multiple residents at the nursing home over several months.
Amid the pain the families experienced knowing their family members could have allegedly been victims of this abuse, a few of them started seeking out the other families to gain strength from each other.

They’ve since met regularly at local establishments to talk about their experiences and the strategies they’re taking to contact state and national leaders.
They’ve also worked closely with A Perfect Cause, an Oklahoma-based advocacy group, and are diligent in attending Broitzman and Larson’s hearings.

“There are many laws, policies and procedures that need to be changed,” Reshetar said.
She said it’s hard for her to realize that in the last 40 or 50 years, laws for other age groups have moved forward. But to her, it seems like laws for the elderly have been forgotten, she noted.
“We want people to understand what this does,” Reshetar said, of the alleged abuse. “It doesn’t just hurt one person or one son or daughter. It affects everybody’s lives. The numbers are countless.”

Reshetar has blogged, or journaled, about her own feelings of the case on
“We need to get people to understand this is not a one-time situation,” Reshetar said.
The Facebook page can be found at

The Twitter, MySpace and YouTube pages can be found by doing a search. In most cases people have to be a member of the Web site to access them.

The next Families Against Nursing Home Abuse group meeting will be July 23.
People interested in joining can call Reshetar at 402-4749 or Myrna Sorensen at 383-6963.

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