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The danger of a nursing home “elopement”

| May 26, 2021 | Nursing Home Neglect |

One of the biggest dangers a senior with memory problems can face when they’re in nursing care is “elopement.” That’s the term used to describe what happens when a senior with dementia somehow manages to leave their nursing home and simply walk away.

Elopement is much different from typical wandering, especially if a resident doesn’t realize what they’re doing due to a memory disorder or other diagnosis. Residents who elope at a nursing home often attempt to leave their facility multiple times before succeeding in doing so. They may be trying to return to a residence that’s no longer there or following some other memory, and they usually leave without proper clothing, food, medication or identification. 

Are some nursing home residents more vulnerable to elopement than others?

As you might suspect, residents with memory disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are most apt to wander or elope from a nursing home. They often do this because their medical condition causes them to become easily confused. 

Residents who have mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, disassociative disorders or schizophrenia may also elope depending on the severity of their diagnosis and the circumstances, including things like the proximity to busy roads or bad weather. Elopement can be dangerous because:

  • They may wander into a wooded area where they get hurt without any ability to summons help.
  • Your loved one may venture onto a busy roadway where a motorist could hit them.
  • They could fall victim to a crime. 

While many nursing home facilities have security guards and cameras, restricted accessibility to doors and regular monitoring schedules in place aimed at protecting residents from wandering or eloping, those measures aren’t foolproof. 

What can you do if your loved one was allowed to wander and suffered an injury?

You may have a valid reason to hold your loved one’s nursing home accountable for any injuries that they suffer due to a wandering or elopement incident. An attorney can advise you of your right to do so.