When you consider all of the “never events” that should not ever occur in patient care, patient elopement is right up there at the top of the list. Still, an alarming number of dementia patients still manage to escape the confines of their supposedly secure settings to wander freely.
Sadly, many dementia patients are not found until they have succumbed to the elements or otherwise died due to their misadventure. Let’s examine the problem so you can determine whether your loved one with dementia is at risk of patient elopement.
What is patient elopement?
Patient elopement refers to situations where a dementia patient vacates the safe surroundings of their long-term care facility. In many cases, the dementia patient wanders off the property entirely. They can fall, stumble into traffic, drown in bodies of water or be victimized by others.
Who is at risk of elopement?
Some dementia patients seem to spend their days seeking ways to get off the secure unit. Those nursing home residents have to be watched very carefully to make sure they remain safe. Others may merely slip out unnoticed because they are following other residents’ family members out the secured door of the unit.
Dementia patients are inclined to wander. Many patients obsessively walk the corridors of their secure units, seemingly on a quest to go somewhere long after they have forgotten the intended destination. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that roughly 60% of dementia patients will wander during the course of their disease.
In fact, it is a tendency to wander or even to drive off that lands the dementia patients in a secured unit to begin with. Their loved ones realize that they can no longer be trusted to live alone unsupervised, so they arrange for the care they believe will keep their parents or grandparents safe. It is quite a blow, then, to realize that their loved one managed to get out of the facility unsupervised.
Be your loved one’s advocate
Since dementia robs its sufferers of the ability to protect themselves, friends and loved ones of dementia patients must advocate for them if they are in unsafe conditions. You might need to take legal action to best protect them from elopement. You can obtain justice for a victim of nursing home neglect who was allowed to wander off.