In nursing homes, the term “elopement” means the unsupervised wandering of a resident resulting in the resident exiting the facility. Obviously, elopement can lead to serious injury and death. Unfortunately, the number of these cases is on the rise. In fact, between 2006 and 2009, elopement in long term care facilities rose 38%.
Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive impairments are most likely to elope. Of those, the residents with full mobility are at the most risk. Still, seniors bound to wheelchairs can and do manage to elope.
Many factors may trigger elopement in residents. These may include environmental stresses, such as loud noises, uncomfortable temperatures, or bright lights. For example, studies show that dementia sufferers are more prone to these types of environmental cues, and wander to avoid them. Still, other reasons include internal discomfort, such as the need to use the bathroom, or reminiscent wandering, such as the need to go to a job that the resident hasn’t had for 25 years.
Still, elopement can be prevented. The first prevention method is conducting a risk assessment. Common assessments include the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory scale or the Revised Algase Wandering Scale, which are questionnaires designed to score the propensity of a resident to wander. Based on the resident’s score, preventative measures are put in place, such as visual deterrents. The second preventative measure is proper training of the nursing home staff. Staff should be instructed, based on the above assessments, to respond to the residents’ wandering habits, and minimize the stimuli that leads to elopement. Staff should stay vigilant at all times. Third, nursing homes can prevent wandering and elopement though proper security. This means making sure that all unnecessary doors remain locked or at least alarm triggered.
Long term care facilities are required to take these reasonable steps to keep residents safe from elopement. If your loved one was seriously injured or died after wandering outside of a nursing home and you are wondering if you have a claim, then please, feel free to call and speak to one of our experienced Georgia nursing home abuse lawyers today. Our consultations are always free. If you would like more information about this topic, be sure to click on our other videos, or better yet, click the subscribe button to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thank you.