Nursing homes and senior care facilities are tasked with ensuring they provide a certain standard of care and safety for all their residents. However, wandering and elopement can be life-threatening due to insufficient intervention techniques at nursing homes. The facilities are responsible for the well-being of the seniors within their premises. Contact a Philadelphia wandering and elopement lawyer to find out if you have a claim if your elderly loved one suffered harm as a result. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 for a free and confidential consultation.
Wandering of Older Adults
Older adults in nursing homes suffering from cognitive conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, experience decreased awareness of their own safety. The lack of such awareness can result in risky behaviors, exposing elderly adults to possible physical and mental injuries. According to the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, an estimated 31% of nursing home residents wander at least once.
Individuals with dementia exhibit wandering behaviors at different stages of the condition, increasing their vulnerability to several forms of abuse, such as financial exploitation. Often, caregivers treat wandering as aimless activities. On the contrary, there are reasons why such behaviors manifest in older adults.
Elopement in Nursing Homes
Elopement occurs when a cognitively, physically, or emotionally impaired nursing home resident escapes, wanders, walks, or runs away from the facility unsupervised or unnoticed.
If elopement happens, the staff must respond quickly. The facility caregivers should launch an immediate, internal and external search to find the missing individual for safety purposes. The facility can contact outside authorities, such as the police, to help in the search.
A Philadelphia wandering and elopement lawyer understands that nursing home residents who are not located within a day risk death resulting from hyperthermia, drowning, or dehydration. They could be assaulted or taken advantage of by a stranger.
The Alzheimer’s Association notes that 45% of elopements occur within 48 hours after a senior has been admitted. Therefore, facilities should conduct screening for risk of elopement and enact timely intervention strategies to prevent such incidents. Some facilities enhance their intervention strategies by using transmitter wristbands to monitor the movement of all residents.
Despite the measures that a nursing home puts in place, failure of equipment or other processes can lead to elopement. For example, if relevant caregivers do not monitor the tracking wristband, it can be difficult to detect failures.
If your family member suffered injuries resulting from wandering and elopement, reach out to a personal injury attorney for a free and confidential consultation.
It is crucial to first establish what led to your loved one leaving the facility so that you can proceed to prove negligence.
For a free legal consultation with a Philadelphia Wandering and Elopement Lawyer serving Philadelphia, call (800) 842-6336
The Causes of Wandering and Elopement
Many elderly adults residing in nursing homes suffer from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The conditions severely affect the functioning of the brain, resulting in a wide range of symptoms, such as:
- Loss of memory
- Altered moods
Individuals in nursing homes and care centers need close supervision in their daily activities to prevent dangerous situations from occurring.
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Understaffing Can Lead to Wandering and Elopement
Understaffed nursing homes are likely to record higher wandering and elopement cases compared to facilities with adequate staff. Owners of such nursing homes reduce the costs of running their facilities by intentionally employing fewer staff members.
Fewer than required staff compromises the quality of care they can provide, jeopardizing the safety of residents.
Confused and disoriented residents of nursing homes can wander and elope with ease from an understaffed facility.
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Wandering and Elopement Injury Claims
Residents who wander from nursing homes without the caregiver’s knowledge risk suffering severe injuries and even fatalities. The wandering residents risk exposure to excessive cold or heat when not properly dressed. They risk falling and other serious dangers.
There has been an increase in cases involving wandering and elopement in nursing homes in the recent past.
One of the primary responsibilities of nursing home staff is safeguarding residents against wandering and elopement. Facilities should be equipped with alarms, CCTVs, and gates that remain locked at all times. Caregivers should study and understand the behavior of residents to enable quick responses to emergencies, including wandering.
If a loved one suffers wandering and elopement injuries because a caregiver lacked the proper skills to maintain safety, you may be eligible to seek monetary compensation.
A lawyer could file a claim based on factors such as negligence, understaffing, and lack of proper training.
When you take a loved one to reside in a nursing home, the facility will have you sign a written contract for the services it offers. One assurance that most nursing homes require is adequate supervision to protect your loved one from wandering. A nursing home that fails to monitor its residents to prevent wandering and elopement breaches its contract.
If you plan to sue a nursing home for negligence, the court will require you to provide evidence that the facility owed your family member a duty of care, but the staff breached it, resulting in damages. If sadly a resident dies due to wandering and elopement injuries, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility.
The Pennsylvania Home Care Act will also allow you to file a claim by establishing a violation of the law’s requirements.
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Get Help from a Philadelphia Wandering and Elopement Lawyer
Residents of nursing homes and elderly care facilities need close supervision and care. If a loved one has suffered injuries resulting from the staff’s negligence, reach out to our legal team today. We will help you in filing a claim to seek justice and fair compensation for the damages. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to speak to a member of our team about your unique case.