When elderly people are struggling with cognitive disabilities such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, one issue that can sometimes happen is that they wander away from a care facility. Nursing homes are supposed to take steps to prevent this. Some will have a staff member posted by the door at all times, for instance. Others will have specific wards that are locked to prevent people from leaving without permission. But if your elderly loved one is being neglected, they could wander off before anyone has even noticed.
A lot of times, this just comes from confusion. An elderly person may believe that they are just trying to go home. They don’t remember that they live at the nursing home now, and they’re trying to find their way back to their house. But this can be very dangerous because they could become injured and there are even cases where this type of neglect has been fatal.
How is elopement different?
Wandering is essentially defined as actions that happen at or near the facility. Someone may wander into a different area where they’re not supposed to go or simply be wandering about the facility itself. It’s still dangerous if they need care because no one is with them at the time, and no one may even know that they are at risk.
But elopement is worse because it happens when the person leaves the facility entirely. In the example discussed above, they may be trying to go home. But they could become confused and lost, and then they would have no idea how to get back to their home or the facility. Many of the cases that result in fatalities come from elopement.
If you believe that your loved one has been neglected and the neglect has had serious consequences like this, you need to know about your legal options.