Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

Wandering & Elopement in Nursing Homes

Attorney Waldman fights for residents’ rights

Wandering and elopement are critical concerns in nursing homes. When residents wander, they can unintentionally leave the facility and be faced with the dangers of the outside. Some residents are more vulnerable to wandering and elopement than others, but all residents depend on nursing homes to watch over them and ensure they are secure and safe inside.

At Hal Waldman & Associates, we know the standard safety measures nursing homes need to implement, and when they don’t, we won’t let them get away with it. We aim to hold these facilities accountable for putting your loved one at risk. Protect your loved one from the dangers of wandering, and contact us today to see how an experienced Pittsburgh nursing home neglect attorney can help with your potential legal case.

What is wandering and elopement?

Wandering is when nursing home residents walk around without reason or purpose. This often happens to residents who are confused or suffer from problems with memory. When left unattended due to nursing home neglect, residents can wander and find themselves in unsafe situations.

Elopement is a type of wandering specific to nursing homes. It happens when a resident wanders to a point where they find themselves outside of the facility. This can be extremely dangerous as confused residents face risks outside, like being hit by a vehicle or falling down.

Cause of elopement

Many factors can cause wandering and elopement. Elopement can affect all residents, particularly those with memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These conditions lead to confusion and disorientation, causing residents to wander when they shouldn’t. Sleep disorders affect the amount of sleep they get, resulting in wandering.

When a resident’s physical and emotional needs are not being met, this can also cause them to wander. Over-medication or incorrect dosages can cause your loved one to feel disoriented or drowsy, increasing the risk of elopement. Some residents may attempt to leave the facility to visit loved ones and familiar environments.

Types of elopement

  • Aimless wandering: When residents wander randomly and aimlessly. Residents who aimlessly wander may seem disorientated and may unintentionally repeat wandering paths.
  • Purposeful wandering: These residents walk around with the intention of where they want to go. They may wander to seek a specific location or person or to have needs met, such as thirst, hunger, or the need to use the restroom.
  • Reminiscent wandering: When residents wander, they may be seeking familiarity to reminisce about the past. This type of wandering is usually linked to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The dangers of wandering and elopement

Wandering threatens your loved one’s safety and can cause them to suffer injuries and put them in life-threatening situations. Some of the most common risks of wandering and elopement include:

  • Traffic
  • Extreme weather
  • Lack of needed medication
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Falls
  • Broken bones
  • Drowning
  • Death

How to prevent wandering and elopement

Elopement and wandering can be prevented. All residents should be supervised, but those at a higher risk of wandering should be especially closely monitored. This goes above and beyond minimal supervision. Regular check-ins and monitoring systems can help staff stay alert and catch any signs of elopement.

Creating a safe and resident-friendly environment is another way to prevent wandering. Nursing homes can implement the following to help prevent wandering and elopement:

  • Installing alarms on exit doors
  • Installing locking systems
  • Implementing supervised walks
  • Having enclosed outdoor spaces

Making sure staff are trained is also essential to prevent wandering. Properly trained staff members will be prepared to avoid mistakes that can increase the risk of elopement. Simply having enough staff to supervise all the residents is critical – as with many types of neglect, understaffing is a crucial factor in most elopement cases.

Turn your concerns into legal action

If you suspect your loved one has been harmed due to wandering or elopement in a nursing home, your family deserves justice and accountability. The legal team at Hal Waldman & Associates is dedicated to fighting for families affected by nursing home abuse and neglect throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Contact us today and begin to take action with a nursing home neglect attorney on your side. With a free initial consultation, we’ll listen to your concerns and make sure you understand the legal options available to you. Get the law firm that puts your family's best interests first.

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