One of the most frightening calls you received may have been the one from your parent's nursing home advising you that your loved one was missing. Although the facility may be equipped with locks and alarms, somehow, your parent managed to slip away unseen.
Perhaps your loved one was fortunate enough to be close by when staff or police finally located him or her. On the other hand, some who elope from nursing homes wander for days, unclad for the weather and vulnerable to falls. Tragically, some succumb to the elements, the stress or critical injuries.
Nursing homes are responsible for keeping loved ones safe
Nearly 60 percent of those patients who wander do so because of dementia. While you may expect that a nursing facility that cares for patients with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia will be vigilant in keeping your loved one safe, dementia is not the only cause of wandering. Residents of nursing homes may elope as a result of any of these factors:
- The side effects of new medication
- Reaction to a new, unsettling environment
- Confusion when rising in the night and forgetting where they are
- Stress due to neglect, abuse or simply change
- A sleep disorder
For this reason, the staff of your loved one's nursing facility should know to frequently check on residents, monitor their dispositions and ensure the facility has protections in place. A facility that is understaffed or whose employees are untrained or indifferent may not provide this for your loved one.
How to deal with neglect
If your loved one experienced a spell of wandering, or your loved one suffers from dementia that causes confusion, you have undoubtedly confronted the nursing home about making changes to prevent future occurrences. However, you may feel that they did not do enough, especially if your loved one eloped again or suffered injuries during a period of wandering.
You have a right to expect high standards from the facility entrusted to care for your loved one. If you suspect your loved one is not receiving this care and is suffering because if it, you may wish to seek legal counsel. Consulting an attorney who is passionate about the rights of the sick and elderly will provide you with answers and guidance for taking the necessary steps to correct the situation.