Wandering and elopement are serious concerns within nursing home care, especially for those residents that exhibit symptoms of cognitive impairment or memory loss. A nursing home has the obligation to protect residents and ensure that courtyards, doors, and all entry points are secured. The nursing home must be aware that many of its residents need extra security to stay safe.
If your loved one suffered an injury after wandering or elopement, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to discuss what happened with a member of our legal team. You may be surprised to learn that you could file a lawsuit to hold the nursing home or memory care facility and its staff accountable.
Dangers of Wandering and Elopement
Wandering and elopement are extremely dangerous behaviors for seniors with cognitive impairments. There is a real chance that seniors who wander out of a facility could be injured or lost for an extended period of time. Some of the possible dangers for wandering seniors are:
- Accidents: Most seniors are prone to accidents. Without the care and monitoring of trained staff members, seniors that wander or elope may be more prone to accidents. Without close medical attention, these accidents can be potentially fatal.
- Missing medication: Many seniors need medication on a daily basis or multiple times per day. Missing these medications can be detrimental to their health. Leaving a facility without those medications could lead to more significant problems.
- Victimization by strangers: Seniors have an increased risk of being victimized by strangers, especially when they have mobility or memory difficulties.
- Disappearance: Seniors can quickly and easily get lost, even in a crowd. Seniors that wander could disappear, especially if the facility is in a location by itself and surrounded by natural features like forests or lakes.
- Death: A number of dangerous situations could happen to seniors when they wander or elope, putting them at a high risk of serious injury and death.
Wandering away from a facility can be dangerous for seniors if they need constant care and assistance. Nursing homes have an obligation to keep all entrances secured and to monitor seniors. If a facility loses a senior, that facility can be held accountable by an Oak Park wandering and elopement lawyer.
Your Legal Rights
As the relative of a senior (or as a senior yourself), you do have rights in wandering and elopement cases. You can act on the senior’s behalf to hold the facility responsible. This includes filing a lawsuit against the facility for negligence. If the facility failed in its responsibility to keep seniors safe, it can be held accountable.
For a free legal consultation with a Wandering and Elopement Lawyer serving Oak Park, call (800) 794-0444
Statute of Limitations
If you believe that your loved one wandered or eloped from a facility that is negligent in its duties, seek legal assistance right away. There is a statute of limitations of two years for elder abuse in Illinois. If that statute elapses, you will not be able to file a lawsuit against the facility. It is also to your benefit to file sooner because your lawyer will need to do extensive work collecting evidence from the facility and other sources to prepare your case. Waiting to file a lawsuit increases the chances that the evidence you need will disappear before your lawyer can collect it.
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Steps Memory Care Facilities Must Take to Prevent Wandering
Since nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents, there are specific steps that they can take to make the process easier. These steps include:
- Door locks: The easiest way for nursing homes to protect seniors is to keep all of the outer entryways secured. By installing key card locks, number padlocks, or fingerprint locks, the facility can give easy access to staff members while restricting access for seniors.
- Secure courtyards: Nursing homes can also create secure courtyards and outdoor spaces for seniors to enjoy. They need the same type of security features as the rest of the facility, including locks on entrances.
- Entryway cameras: Nursing homes can also install cameras at all of the entryways to monitor anyone that comes and goes. The person monitoring the entrance can identify seniors and redirect them when necessary.
- Daily/hourly check-ins: Part of the reason why seniors wander is because staff members lose track of them. With a daily or hourly check-in process, someone knows where seniors are throughout the day.
- Emergency response/monitoring pendants: Many emergency response and monitoring pendants offer a way to track seniors either in real time or if they try to leave the facility.
- Increased staffing: Having enough or more than enough staff members makes it easier to keep track of seniors so that they cannot wander out of the facility.
There are many ways of preventing wandering. Each facility should use several methods at the same time. If you think the facility that your loved one is in does not take the steps needed to prevent wandering, consult an Oak Park wandering and elopement lawyer for guidance. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for legal assistance in a wandering or elopement case.
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While wandering is a potential risk for everyone, there are certain groups that have a higher chance of wandering. Anyone with dementia or a related memory disorder has a high risk of wandering. Unfortunately, some facilities overmedicate people with dementia, which makes their chances of wandering higher. The medication can compromise their ability to think clearly, making them more likely to wander out of the facility without realizing it.
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Wandering and elopement are dangerous behaviors for seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other cognitive impairments. In a worst-case scenario, seniors who elope could end up in a situation where they lose their life. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to learn more about how an Oak Park wandering and elopement lawyer may be able to help you and your family.
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