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Long Beach Nursing Home Attorneys Handling Wandering and Elopement
Compassionate legal representation when nursing home residents suffer injury in California
Wandering and elopement are two terms that are often used interchangeably to describe the act of a nursing home resident leaving the facility without permission. However, there is a slight difference between the two terms.
Wandering is a broader term that refers to any time a resident leaves their room or unit without permission. Elopement, on the other hand, is a more specific term that refers to a resident leaving the facility altogether. Wandering and elopement can be a serious problem in nursing homes. Residents who wander or elope are at risk of getting lost, injured, or even killed. They can also be a danger to themselves and others.
Wandering and elopement are significant concerns in nursing homes, particularly among residents living with cognitive impairments such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease. At Garcia & Artigliere, our Long Beach nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys recognize the grave risks these issues pose to vulnerable residents and their families. Our experienced team of California attorneys is dedicated to holding nursing homes accountable for their duty to provide a safe environment and prevent wandering-related incidents. With over 150 years of combined experience and $3 billion recovered for people nationwide, we are the law firm you can trust.
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What causes wandering and elopement?
Several factors can contribute to wandering and elopement in nursing homes. These include:
- Cognitive impairment. Residents with cognitive impairment, such as dementia, are more likely to wander or elope. This is because they may not be able to remember where they are or how to get back to their room.
- Depression. Residents who are depressed may also be more likely to wander or elope. This is because they may be seeking a way to escape their surroundings.
- Lack of supervision. Residents who are not properly supervised are more likely to wander or elope. This is because they may not have anyone to keep an eye on them and make sure that they do not leave the facility.
- Environmental factors. The environment of the nursing home can also contribute to wandering and elopement. For example, if the facility has a lot of doors and windows that are easy to open, residents may be more likely to leave.
By understanding the causes of wandering and elopement, nursing homes can take steps to prevent it and keep their residents safe.
What are the risk factors for wandering and elopement?
Several risk factors can contribute to wandering and elopement among elderly residents in nursing homes. Understanding these risk factors is crucial for identifying individuals who may be at higher risk and implementing preventive measures. Some common risk factors for wandering and elopement include:
- Cognitive impairment. Individuals with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia are at significant risk of wandering and elopement. Memory loss and confusion can lead them to wander aimlessly or attempt to leave the facility.
- Restlessness and anxiety. Residents experiencing restlessness, agitation, or anxiety may wander in an attempt to alleviate their feelings of unease or find a more familiar environment.
- Previous history of wandering. Residents with a history of wandering or elopement are at higher risk of repeating such behavior, especially if the underlying causes have not been addressed.
- Disorientation. Residents who have difficulty orienting themselves to time, place, or person may become disoriented and inadvertently wander.
- Disruption in routine. Changes in daily routines, unfamiliar surroundings, or new caregivers can trigger wandering behavior in some residents.
- Medication side effects. Certain medications, especially those prescribed for cognitive conditions, can lead to confusion or disorientation, increasing the risk of wandering and elopement.
- Physical restlessness. Some residents may wander due to physical discomfort or restlessness caused by various medical conditions.
- Desire for independence. Residents who feel confined or restricted may attempt to elope in a bid for independence or to return to their previous living situation.
Identifying these risk factors allows nursing homes to develop personalized care plans and implement preventive measures tailored to each resident's needs. Regular assessments and communication with healthcare professionals, staff, and families are vital to monitor changes in residents' behavior and mitigate the risk of wandering and elopement.
What are the dangers of wandering and elopement?
Wandering and elopement can be a serious problem in nursing homes. Residents who wander or elope are at risk of getting lost, injured, or even killed. They can also be a danger to themselves and others.
Here are some of the dangers of wandering and elopement:
- Getting lost. Residents who wander or elope can easily get lost, especially if they have cognitive impairment. This can lead to them being stranded in unfamiliar areas, which can be dangerous.
- Injuries. Residents who wander or elope may be injured in several ways. They may fall, get hit by a car, or be exposed to the elements.
- Death. In some cases, residents who wander or elope may die. This may be due to an injury, exposure to the elements, or simply being unable to find their way back to the nursing home.
- Harm to others. Residents who wander or elope may also pose a danger to others. For example, they may wander into traffic or into areas where they are not supposed to be.
If your loved one has been injured due to wandering or eloping, talk to the Long Beach attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere right away for legal help.
How can nursing homes prevent wandering and elopement?
Wandering and elopement are serious problems in nursing homes. Residents who wander or elope are at risk of getting lost, injured, or even killed. Nursing homes can take steps to prevent wandering and elopement by implementing safety measures and educating staff.
- Identify at-risk residents. The first step is to identify residents who are at risk of wandering or elopement. This can be done by conducting a risk assessment. The risk assessment should include the resident's medical history, cognitive status, and behavioral history.
- Implement safety measures. Once at-risk residents have been identified, safety measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of wandering and elopement. These measures may include using wander guards, installing door alarms, and providing close supervision.
- Educate staff. Staff members should be educated about the risks of wandering and elopement and how to prevent it. They should also be trained on how to respond if a resident does wander or elope.
- Involve families. Families should be involved in the prevention of wandering and elopement. They can provide valuable information about the resident's history and risk factors. They can also help to monitor the resident and provide support.
Here are some specific safety measures that nursing homes can implement to prevent wandering and elopement:
- Use wander guards. Wander guards are devices that can be worn by residents who are at risk of wandering. The wander guard will sound an alarm if the resident leaves a designated area.
- Install door alarms. Door alarms can be installed on doors that lead to the outside. The door alarm will sound an alarm if the door is opened.
- Provide close supervision. Residents who are at risk of wandering should be closely supervised by staff members. This means that staff members should be aware of the resident's location at all times.
- Create a safe environment. The nursing home environment should be made as safe as possible for residents who are at risk of wandering. This means removing any hazards that the resident could trip over or fall on.
- Provide activities. Residents who are bored or restless are more likely to wander. Providing residents with activities can help to keep them occupied and reduce the risk of wandering.
- Talk to the resident. If a resident is expressing a desire to leave the nursing home, talk to them about their reasons. Try to understand what is driving their desire to leave and see if there are any ways to address their concerns.
By taking these steps, nursing homes can help to prevent wandering and elopement and keep their residents safe. However, when they fail and your loved one suffers an injury, it is imperative to get in touch with the Long Beach attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere for help.
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Garcia & Artigliere has offices at 180 E. Ocean Blvd., Suite 1100, Long Beach, CA 90802.
Talk to our California attorneys handling wandering and elopement claims today
If your elderly family member is at risk of wandering or elopement, it's time to take action to ensure their safety and well-being. At Garcia & Artigliere, we understand the importance of safeguarding your loved ones in nursing homes. Our compassionate team of attorneys is here to support you in advocating for their rights and implementing preventive measures. Call our Long Beach offices or fill out our contact form today.
We only collect attorney fees if we win your case. Our nursing home neglect lawyers serve families throughout the U.S. and maintain other offices in Louisville, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New Orleans. Our services are available in both English and Spanish.
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