The idea that nursing homes are boring and unpleasant is a running gag in popular culture. Some older adults truly fear moving into nursing homes and similar assisted living facilities because of these depictions. Although there are unsafe and unpleasant nursing homes, the workers at most facilities do everything they can to ensure the safety and comfort of their residents. People often settle into a new lifestyle and daily routine after moving to a nursing home.
However, sometimes the unexpected happens. Family members receive a phone call alerting them to a loved one’s escape or elopement. Older adults who wander off from or intentionally leave nursing home facilities can end up hurt in traffic, targeted by criminals or affected by exposure to the elements. An elopement incident is a warning sign that someone may have experienced abuse or neglect.
Elopement is largely preventable
Older adults experiencing cognitive decline become confused and sometimes even combative. They may try to leave the facility with little warning or preparation, so proper safety measures, like locked wards for those with memory issues, are crucial to the protection of nursing home residents. Generally speaking, nursing homes in Ohio can and should have preventative measures in place to prevent such vulnerable older adults from leaving facilities. When nursing homes don’t have proper security and safety measures in place, their negligence may be to blame for an older adult leaving the facility and ending up injured or sickened as a result.
Intentional escape could be a reaction to abuse
Occasionally, the people who flee nursing homes aren’t confused but instead want to leave because they have experienced some kind of mistreatment. Especially if the person who allegedly wandered off does not typically display signs of cognitive impairment, their attempt to escape could be a warning sign that they have endured intense mistreatment or lengthy periods of neglect while at the nursing home.
In some cases, family members may even need to pursue legal action on behalf of a loved one who wandered off from or otherwise left a nursing home where they lived. Seeking legal guidance to better understand the many ways that nursing home abuse and neglect can affect the behavior of residents can potentially help people who are hoping to protect their vulnerable loved ones.