Wandering and Elopement from Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Jacksonville and elsewhere house many residents who have cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Without adequate supervision, due to their confusion, these residents can wander from a facility placing them in serious danger. Wandering is a constant concern for relatives who cannot be there at all times to supervise a loved one.

Our nursing home negligence attorneys bring claim for injuries and death that result from foreseeable wandering or elopement from nursing homes or assisted living facilities in the greater Jacksonville area.

Wandering and elopement is a significant and common problem. It is estimated that up to 31 percent of all nursing home residents and between 25 percent and 70 percent of older adults with dementia living in assisted living communities wander at least once.

As many as one in five people with dementia wander, according to Dr. Paula Lester, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York. When a resident suffers injury or death after wandering from a skilled nursing or assisted living facility, that resident or his or her family members should consider talking to a nursing home injury lawyer.

Failure to Adequately Supervise can Result in Residents Going Missing

A report in the Detroit Free Press in 2015 noted how a Jacksonville assisted living facility was fined for its failure to adequately supervise two residents.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration alleged that one resident was dropped off for an appointment at a doctor's office and no one returned to pick him up. Authorities found him sleeping on a bench near the clinic. In a second case, a resident disappeared from the assisted living facility and the administrator allegedly failed to notify authorities.

The Dangers of Wandering and Elopement

Wandering can be extremely dangerous. If an elderly resident with dementia or Alzheimer’s wanders, the dangers he or she face are analogous to those of young children who wander away from childcare facilities.

Residents with medical conditions may not be able to communicate their plight to strangers. It’s important to locate elderly residents who wander as soon as possible. Older people tire more quickly than others and are more prone to falls and getting lost. Florida can present an inhospitable environment to seniors who are lost, particularly in the summer when temperatures soar. Dehydration can set in very quickly. Other dangers in the Jacksonville area include busy highways and numerous waterways including retention ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers.

Sometimes, nursing home staff members fail to inform authorities immediately when a resident goes missing. The administration of nursing homes and assisted living facilities may seek to find the resident first to avoid official scrutiny, a backlash from family members, and bad publicity. However, any delay can harm the prospects of elderly residents who have wandered off. When a facility is poorly administered, staff may not even realize a resident is missing for hours.

New Technology and Securing Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

The need to secure facilities that house elderly residents is paramount. This should go beyond making sure doors and other entranceways are locked. Alarms on doors and closed-circuit cameras are vital to ensure resident safety in nursing and assisted living facilities.

However, it’s important that staff oversee these systems. Many facilities that care for elderly people are chronically understaffed meaning they rely too heavily on technology without a human backup. Facilities must train staff to properly use and monitor surveillance equipment. Caregivers must make regular check-ups on the residents of a home. They should be cognizant of the residents who are most likely to wander and take extra steps to keep them secure.

Hire a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

Failure to adequately supervise a nursing home or assisted living facility resident leading to wandering and elopement is a form of neglect and abuse. The Jacksonville metro area contains more than 50 nursing homes. While many of them are well run, staffing shortages remain endemic at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Residents may not be properly monitored. If an elderly resident has wandered from a nursing home or an assisted living facility and suffered injury, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We handle wandering or elopement cases against nursing homes in the greater Jacksonville, Florida area on a contingent basis, meaning you pay us nothing unless we make a recovery for you.

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