Elder Wandering and Elopement Liability
For nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and similar conditions, the risk of wandering and elopement are ever-present. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that around 60 percent of people with dementia will wander at some point. Individuals may wander out of their own space into other residents’ rooms or leave the property altogether.
Elopement puts seniors in danger of getting lost, becoming exposed to the elements, or getting hit by a car. Men and women with conditions that cloud their memory and impact decision-making are often unpredictable. Therefore, if a nursing home resident wanders away, who is liable if they should become injured?
Wandering and Elopement Risk Factors
Every person entering a nursing home or assisted living facility should be evaluated for the risk factors of wandering and elopement, including:
- Agitation and restlessness
- Diagnosis of dementia or related condition
- Expressions of wanting to leave, visiting a loved one, or going home or to work
- Good mobility, ability to move about and open doors easily
- History of wandering or elopement
Preventing Elopement and Wandering
Protecting individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s is challenging; they often require around-the-clock care to keep them out of harm’s way. As these diseases worsen with time, men and women may become unable to speak coherently, recognize loved ones, or perform basic daily tasks. When the senior has access to a vehicle, the risk to themselves and others is even greater. One study on the subject found that 30 percent of individuals with dementia who wandered were deceased when they were eventually found. That sobering statistic emphasizes the responsibility of nursing homes and other facilities to properly supervise seniors.
To prevent wandering and elopement, nursing homes should take the following precautions:
- Conduct a thorough risk assessment for every resident
- Install alarms at all facility entrances and exits
- Use wearable bracelet or anklet alarms to track residents
- Keep patients occupied with healthy, enjoyable activities
- Establish a schedule to check on patients every 15 minutes
- Communicate a patient’s wandering risk with all caregivers
- House residents in a safe, secure facility
Liability for Wandering and Elopement
Nursing homes and other senior facilities should be equipped to address the unique needs of residents with cognitive decline and an increased risk of wandering. Allowing a person to leave the facility undetected is inexcusable. If your loved one is living in a senior residence, it is important to look for the signs of harm or abuse.
Patients with dementia may not be able to communicate their experience, so family members and friends need to advocate on their behalf. If you suspect a loved one is not receiving good care, contact an elder law attorney to determine if you have grounds for a claim against the nursing home. Facilities and employees should be held accountable if they fail to protect the residents in their care. Wandering and elopement may be signs of neglect.
Brooklyn Elder Law Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Protect the Rights of Seniors and Their Loved Ones
If you have questions or concerns about your loved one’s elder care, the Brooklyn elder law attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP can help. We hold negligent caregivers responsible when seniors get hurt. To discuss your matter, call 212-495-8133 or use the convenient online form to schedule your consultation today. With offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we are proud to serve clients throughout Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York.