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How can nursing homes prevent the elopement of older adults?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2022 | Elder Abuse |

Older adults frequently experience cognitive decline as they age, especially if they have conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. It can be hard to provide the care that someone needs when they don’t act in their own best interests.

Family members frequently turn to professional facilities after someone has a diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar condition. They want the support of a facility so that their loved ones won’t be at risk.

Elopement or wandering is a common issue for older adults. Even those who are lucid and where most of the time can have moments of confusion where they don’t know where they are or what they should do. Wandering away could lead to tragic outcomes, especially during times of bad weather or if someone is dependent on medication. Nursing homes should take steps to protect their vulnerable residents from elopement.

Those at risk of wandering require constant supervision

Obviously, nursing homes cannot provide around-the-clock one-on-one support for every adult in the facility. However, they can invest in security cameras and design facilities in a way that makes them easier to monitor residents and harder for people to leave without permission.

Understaffing and inadequate monitoring, especially when residents are asleep, could be the difference between stopping someone as they attempt to leave the facility and losing a resident.

Facilities need secure doors and windows

People don’t need to feel trapped to be safe in a nursing home. It is possible to have windows that open to offer fresh air into someone’s room without giving them an opportunity to squeeze through, especially if they are on the ground floor of a building.

Nursing homes should have separate wards for those at risk of wandering that have secure doors and windows. While these spaces shouldn’t look like prisons, they also should not be places where residents can just walk out when accompanied by a guest.

Proper emergency protocols are also crucial

Even someone who is usually cooperative could wander off and endanger themselves in a moment of panic and confusion, like when a fire alarm goes off and forces residents to evacuate. Nursing homes should have rules in place to ensure that they track everyone in their care, especially during moments of confusion.

Understaffing, inadequate training and improper security measures can all contribute to the risk of older adults wandering and possibly getting seriously hurt. Recognizing when worker or facility negligence contributed to an elopement incident can help you protect and advocate for your vulnerable older loved one.

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