Senior Wandering and Elopement in Long Beach
If a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility manages to escape the supervision of the facility, he or she may face significant risk of harm. This is why the security of seniors in care facilities is and should be of paramount concern. If your loved one was hurt because of improper supervision, speak to Long Beach elder law attorney Travis Siegel.
What Are "Wandering" and "Elopement"?
Both wandering and elopement can be dangerous and frightening for seniors and family, especially ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Wandering, for assisted living residents, is loosely defined as the senior leaving his or her designated area but remaining on the premises of the facility.
- Elopement is when the senior escapes from the facility grounds and goes out into an unsafe and unsupervised world.
Why would a senior wander? Usually because of simple disorientation or distraction. Due to his declining mental state, a senior may leave a room or building without intending to do so. Perhaps he was simply walking and didn’t recognize the boundaries or run into anything or anyone who stopped him. In this instance, the senior may not have the attention span or the ability to recognize that he has left "his space."
In a different type of situation, the act of leaving may be intentional, although not completely understood. For example, a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia may be completely focused on finding someone or something and fail to notice he has crossed physical boundaries. Or perhaps she is simply searching for the familiar, although what is familiar may not even be recognizable to her anymore.
Risks to Seniors
The risks of a senior wandering away from his or her care facility can be significant and may include:
- Falls, due to uneven or unfamiliar terrain.
- Attacks, due to the territorial instinct of another resident.
- Traffic accidents, while attempting to cross the road or being unaware of vehicles.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals, debris in "off-limits" areas, and more. Once the senior is outside, he’s prey to the elements, animal attacks, or other harm.
Any facility that accepts senior patients who require specialized care needs to take a close look at its supervisory and security policies. It does not help the family of a senior who got hurt to know that this "shouldn’t have happened." The senior himself is no longer responsible the implications of his choices and therefore, it is the care facility that is responsible. If staff members fail to adequately provide for seniors in their care, they need to be held accountable.
If your loved one was injured in a wandering or elopement situation, contact us at Siegel Law at (562) 645-4145. We can offer advice on your legal rights and potential remedies.