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Steps Nursing Home Can Take to Prevent Elders Wandering

Proper supervision of seniors who are at risk for wandering is critical to protecting them and ensuring their long-term safety. For residents with dementia or other cognitive function conditions, this can be critical to protecting their lives. Yet, there are times when this does not happen, and an older adult is able to elope from a nursing home. That can signal nursing home neglect when it occurs.

Exploring the Risks of Elopement

Nursing home residents who exhibit the following risks for elopement should be monitored closely to avoid wandering away from the facility:

  • Making comments that they want to return to their home or leave the facility
  • A previous record of wandering
  • Agitation or restlessness while in the nursing home
  • Having a healthy appearance or able body
  • Having a track record of trying to open locked doors
  • Signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s or being diagnosed with either
  • Having the ability to operate a wheelchair on their own or walk without issues

Strategies for Minimizing Risks of Elopement

Elopement can occur at any time of the day or evening. There is a fine line that nursing homes need to follow to ensure that a person is getting the right level of care and support they need to minimize injury and restrain them in an unsafe or undignified manner. Consider these strategies nursing homes can use to prevent wandering.

Providing Enclosures Outdoors

Many nursing homes can minimize risks associated with elopement by ensuring that there are outdoor spaces available that are enclosed and safe to access. Wandering may be more common in those who are outside, such as walking around the building. By providing a safe but enclosed area, that risk may be minimized.

Utilizing Door Alarms

Also important is putting a warning system in place that allows for alerts if a person opens a door that should not be opened. This includes exterior doors that are not the main door for a person to walk into and out of. Door alarms are not invasive. They alert loudly so that anyone can respond when the door is opened.

Installing Bed Alarms

For those who are at a high risk of injury from falls, bed alarms can also be a very effective tool. These alarms can send an audible or silent alarm to the nursing station when someone gets out of bed, allowing for a fast response to minimize the risk of falling or leaving the area.

Deploying Tracking Systems

Modern nursing homes are incorporating new patient tracking systems into their facilities as a helpful tool to prevent elopement. This type of tracking technology may be as simple as a bracelet a person wears throughout the day. If they move into an area they should not be in, this triggers an alarm that allows nurses or others to respond. At the same time, it allows caregivers to monitor a person’s activity safely but without overwhelming instruction.

Was your loved one the victim of neglect due to wandering at their nursing home? Call the office of Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law & Affiliates a free consultation.