In a nursing home, taking care of people living with dementia is a part of the job. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all nursing home residents have some form of dementia or cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease. Although there are still many unknowns about these cognitive impairments, wandering is a well-known characteristic of people living with dementia.
If your loved one in a nursing home suffered injuries due to a wandering incident, it might signal a more serious legal problem. In Louisiana, families of older adults in nursing homes could benefit from seeking a lawyer early in the process, as the statute of limitations for these incidents passes quickly. You can contact the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 and request information about how a Louisiana wandering and elopement lawyer can uphold your rights.
About Wandering and Elopement
Wandering and elopement are known characteristics of people living with dementia or diseases like Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, estimates show six in 10 diagnosed people will do it at some point. Some obvious risk factors exist for people who will wander, like a previous history of doing so, but wandering can also develop in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
The following behaviors can serve as warning signs for someone at risk of wandering:
- Sudden change in familiarity: In nursing homes, residents can suddenly seem forgetful of places they visit or spend time routinely. They may mention the need or desire to “go home” or fulfill obligations from their formerly independent life.
- Restlessness: Pacing, making repetitive movements, and showing physical signs of anxiety can signal a desire to go elsewhere.
- Unmet needs: People accustomed to looking for the bathroom or something to eat on their own might try to fulfill these needs independently.
- Mimics old habits: An older adult who goes through the physical motions of old hobbies and chores without doing that activity may show signs of confusion aligned with wandering and dementia symptoms.
It is also important to know that wandering and elopement are not inherently dangerous in a controlled environment like a nursing home. On the other hand, wandering the building or eloping outside the facility can become a question of negligence when nursing home workers disregard risk factors or do not provide residents with the individualized care required for them to thrive.
Families might find consulting a Louisiana wandering and elopement lawyer worthwhile to understand how to take legal action against a negligent nursing home. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to learn more.
Legal Advice for Families of Nursing Home Residents
Families make the difficult decision to move loved ones to nursing homes when they cannot provide constant medical and supervised care for older adults. Duty of care in a Louisiana nursing home is a legal obligation established by Louisiana Revised Statutes (RS) §40:2010.8. Ideally, families should feel reassured by the excellent care and attentiveness of the nursing home staff. The unfortunate reality of some nursing homes in our state is that of overworked staffers, limited resources, and neglected residents.
In nursing home litigation, families should know that abuse and negligence are equally harmful, even when unintentional. Nursing home staff can prevent most serious accidents that result from wandering and elopement by following procedures for dealing with vulnerable residents. Due to the isolated nature of nursing homes, many older adults find it challenging to communicate neglect or abuse with family members.
Wandering Nursing Home Residents Require Preventative Care
Preventative care plays a major role in upholding a nursing home’s duty of care. For nursing homes, this care can include equipping the facility to prevent or discourage wandering and eloping behaviors. Medical professionals can communicate a patient’s medical history to staff members and continually assess residents’ mental conditions.
People with dementia may not exhibit symptoms until later stages, which explains why preventative monitoring and care is necessary to prevent any harm from wandering accidents. In a nursing home, your loved one expects to receive adequate medical care that enables them to live with as much independence and dignity as possible.
Medical professionals in nursing homes must construct a care plan that addresses current medical issues, plus any recommendations for follow-up care. A medical professional may have liability for wandering and elopement accidents when they do not inform staff about a patient’s medical history or risks or any medication adjustments.
On a larger scale, you can hold the nursing home negligent when it doesn’t follow some simple safety precautions, including:
- Removing potentially hazardous items like medication, alcohol, sharp objects, or tools from residents’ reach.
- Properly maintaining smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
- Clearing excessive clutter that could easily injure a wandering or eloping adult.
- Installing alarms or locks on doors that present obvious opportunities for a wandering or eloping resident to escape the building.
Many circumstances could lead to a dangerous wandering accident. It only takes one elopement gone wrong to change a person’s life completely. Working with a nursing home abuse lawyer cannot necessarily undo the harm your loved one suffered because of the accident. However, it could help you seek fair compensation for the medical bills and pain and suffering resulting from the incident and peace of mind for their care in the future.
Get Legal Advice for Wandering and Elopement
A Louisiana wandering and elopement lawyer can inform you of your rights and legal options after an incident. They can also file a lawsuit within the one-year statute of limitations for claims set by Louisiana Revised Statutes (RS) §9:5628. In most cases, affected families might find it worthwhile to contact an attorney for help as soon as possible.
Vulnerable older loved ones should not become victims of careless, preventative accidents like those from wandering and elopement. You do not have to face this difficult case type alone. You can call the legal team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 for a free case evaluation.