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What to Know About Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement

Taking care of a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s can put a lot of new responsibilities onto your plate. When you trust the care of a loved one in a nursing home, you want to make sure that they can help you alleviate some of that stress.

Unfortunately, nursing home residents can fall victim to negligence for a variety of reasons. No staff has an excuse for allowing your loved one to wander or elope from their residency. If your loved one does break away from their facility, you can consider pursuing an elder abuse case against the parties who failed to provide them with appropriate supervision.

Understanding Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement

Wandering and elopement describe similar behaviors that elderly nursing home residents can engage in when plagued by conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. “Wandering” describes the act of moving aimlessly through a nursing home or care facility. In some situations, the wanderer may not remember where their room is or understand why they are no longer in a familiar environment.

Elopement takes wandering to an extreme. Eloping nursing home residents can wander outside of a nursing home. These parties may try to make their way back toward familiar homes or environments. In the meanwhile, they can put themselves in harm’s way by walking along the highway or in other dangerous environments.

Nursing Homes and Wandering or Elopement Liability

It is the duty of a nursing home or assisted living facility to prevent residents from wandering or eloping. Institutions that fail to keep track of their residents can be held liable for any harm that these parties suffer. In some cases, the negligence that allowed a resident to wander or elope can even qualify as elder abuse.

You can choose to pursue an elder abuse or negligence case in civil court if you believe concentrated negligence led to your loved one’s endangerment. These cases can allow you to negotiate compensation on your loved one’s behalf. You can hold these negotiations with the defendant yourself or request that a judge and jury consider your case for you.

How to Prevent Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement

Unless you are on a nursing home’s staff, it may not be your responsibility to ensure that your loved one does not wander. That said, you can use knowledge of a loved one’s tendency to wander to prepare the staff for this behavior.

If your loved one has attempted to escape your care before, tell the parties who will watch over them. Make sure, too, that the doors to the nursing home or care facility lock well. You can always ask a nursing home or assisted living facility about their wandering and/or elopement policy, too, before you move your loved one into their care.

Dalli & Marino, LLP Strives to Protect Your Loved Ones’ Right to Appropriate Care

Contending with a condition like Alzheimer’s is never easy. Family members can suffer as much emotional distress as their loved ones when faced not only with this extensive memory loss but with patients’ tendency to wander or elope. That said, nursing home and assisted living facility staff members are supposed to intervene before these behaviors can cause your loved one harm.

Should your loved one wander or elope from a care facility, know that you can hold the applicable parties accountable for their oversight. You can contact the team with Dalli & Marino, LLP, to discuss whether or not your loved one’s case qualifies as elder abuse. For more information, you can fill out our contact form or call our office at (888) 465-8790. We also speak Spanish. 

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