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Why Are Wandering and Elopement So Dangerous in a Nursing Home?

Posted on in Wandering and Elopement

Chicago Nursing Home Abuse AttorneyOne of the greatest challenges faced by any long-term care facility is managing the balance between residents’ safety and independence. The individuals living in a nursing home deserve to have the same freedoms as any other adult. However, their freedom is sometimes limited to ensure the residents’ wellbeing. This is an especially crucial issue for residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other conditions affecting cognition.

A key responsibility of any nursing home is preventing wandering and elopement of residents. When residents are not monitored properly, they can roam into unsafe areas of the nursing home or even leave the premises entirely. Sadly, in some cases, wandering and elopement leads to catastrophic or fatal injuries.  

Injuries Caused by Lack of Supervision of Nursing Home Residents

Most nursing home residents are elderly adults who spent decades building families, careers, and lives outside of the facility before arriving at the nursing home. Losing some of their independence and being confined to a nursing home is difficult regardless of whether the resident suffers from cognitive decline. However, individuals with reduced cognitive abilities or memory loss may have an especially hard time adapting to life inside of a nursing home. Some try to escape the facility. Others wander around the facility and become lost. A nursing home resident who wanders into a kitchen, supply closet, or other hazardous area of the facility may be seriously injured or even killed. Injured residents may be left suffering in pain for hours before staff find them.

Elopement from a nursing home facility is often fatal. Earlier this year, a 75-year-old nursing home resident died of hypothermia after eloping from a nursing home. The temperature outside was in the low 20s and the woman quickly succumbed to the elements. Incidents like these are preventable, and facilities that do not take the appropriate steps to prevent wandering and elopement.

Preventing Wandering and Elopement

Nursing homes should take precautions to stop residents from wandering into unsafe areas or unknowingly leaving the facility. Staff should supervise residents – especially those with memory or cognitive problems – and keep track of their whereabouts. Functioning door alarms and locks on exit doors are essential. Staff can encourage residents to remain in the appropriate areas of the facility by offering engaging activities and treating the staff with respect and compassion.

Contact Our Chicago Nursing Home Injury Lawyers

If your loved one was injured or killed due to nursing home negligence, contact our Cook County nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys to learn about your legal options. Call Schwartz Injury Law at 312-535-4625 for a free consultation.



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