People often live in nursing homes because they have health issues that their loved ones cannot manage unassisted. Cognitive decline may play a major role in the decision to move someone into a nursing home. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can become combative and will eventually require around-the-clock care to ensure that they are safe.
Nursing homes have professionals on hand to provide for the needs of residents and, in theory, have the facilities necessary to protect even those with cognitive or memory issues. Unfortunately, elopement or wandering remains a major safety concern for older adults living in nursing home facilities. Almost all such incidents are preventable with appropriate practices at a nursing home.
Facilities must identify high-risk residents
For a nursing home to appropriately meet the needs of vulnerable older adults, it will need to establish how vulnerable that person is and what kind of support they require. Nursing homes should regularly evaluate individual residents for cognitive ability and their degree of risk for a fall.
Frequent screening can help the workers at the facility more effectively meet someone’s needs by updating their care plan and possibly adjusting their schedule and living space. Those who have become hostile toward their living arrangements and who express the desire to want to escape and those who have experienced memory loss or cognitive decline are likely at significantly elevated risk of an elopement incident.
In some cases, older adults will intentionally attempt to leave a facility. Other times, confusion and lack of situational awareness will lead to someone simply wandering off, possibly in the middle of the night. There are many risks for those who leave nursing home facility. They could fall or get hit by a vehicle. They could miss doses of medication that help keep them alive or stave off major symptoms.
They could encounter individuals who would abuse them or take advantage of them because of their compromised condition. Nursing homes therefore need to have the right systems in place to protect those at high risk of elopement. Secured wards, rooms with single points of entrance, around-the-clock monitoring and regular bed checks are among the practices nursing homes can employ to prevent elopement.
When someone manages to leave a nursing home facility and ends up severely injured as a result, their family members may be in a position to take legal action against the facility where they got hurt. Pursuing a negligence claim could hold the facility accountable when an older adult has been hurt because they were able to leave undetected.