A potential elopement episode is one of the most common fears of families when placing their loved ones in Maryland nursing homes. This is a resident’s unsupervised act of wandering or leaving the facility, making them a “flight risk.”
They often do this as a biological response to feeling unsafe, threatened or lonely about their new and unfamiliar environment. Due to cognitive impairment, they may also have memory gaps or not know how they reached a particular destination.
Thus, it is essential for nursing home staff to monitor their residents strictly. By detecting signs of elopement early, the facility can prepare security measures to prevent harmful outcomes.
Detecting signs of elopement
Pre-existing medical conditions, like Alzheimer’s, put nursing home residents at elevated risk of elopement. Six out of ten Alzheimer’s patients suffer from time and space confusion that typically leads to cases of getting lost. If not found within 24 hours, they often sustain fatal injuries.
Some of the risk factors include:
- Lingering stares at exit points
- Prior attempts to unlock or open doors
- Uneasiness, restlessness or disrupted sleeping patterns
- Frequent comments about the desire to go home or be somewhere other than the nursing home
Elopement can be a form of nursing home neglect if facilities and their staff fail to manage the risks. An example of a preventive protocol can be asking residents to wear “wander bracelets” or trackers with the consent of families.
Nursing homes can also have alarm systems with security codes for activation. This way, residents cannot simply go in and out of the area without permission. Further, some facilities have action plans, including a complete lockdown until the missing resident’s safe return.
Finding their way back
Families entrust their loved ones to their chosen facility’s care. Breaking that trust can have serious or even deadly consequences. In case of an elopement tragedy, their legal counsel can help in searching for residents trying to find their way back and make liable parties pay for making such a nightmare happen.