Watch For Wandering In Nursing Homes

By Jitender Sharma - February 08, 2018

Nursing homes have a duty to keep a close eye on all their patients. When residents are left to wander throughout a facility on their own, the risk of suffering serious injury or death is greatly increased. If a facility’s entrance and exit is not properly secured, it can spell disaster.

If your loved one or someone you know was injured or killed while wandering in a nursing home, you may benefit from contacting an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer today.

Why Do Nursing Home Residents Wander?

The most at-risk group of individuals who wander in nursing homes are those with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and other conditions or disease that result in memory loss or impairment. One study done in 2006 found that 20 percent of dementia sufferers will wander at least once.

Over 50 percent of residents in nursing homes suffer from some form of dementia, and about half of these individuals wander.

One study has found that nursing home residents who wander have double the risk of fracture compared with residents who do not wander. More minor outcomes of wandering include undocumented falls, weight loss, abuse by other residents, and social isolation, all of which are serious.

The following circumstances that may lead to wandering include:

Being in an unfamiliar environment/searching for a familiar place
Altering a resident’s routine or medication
Being in need, such as when he or she is hungry, thirsty or needing to use the restroom

The Various Types Of Wandering

Not all wandering is a result of neglect or abuse in a nursing home. However, all of it should be taken seriously.

  • Agitated purposeful wandering: If a resident is upset or in a disruptive emotional state, the reason for wandering may be imagined or real. If the nursing home staff fails to remedy this issue, wandering incidents may pop up again.
  • Elopement: This is when a nursing home resident exits the facility. This is extremely dangerous, as the elderly are often not prepared for what meets them. They may be hit by a car, suffer a fall, or be caught in severe weather.
  • Fantasy: If a nursing home closely resembles a resident’s past home or dwelling, it could cue memories and trigger wandering. If a resident has trouble coming to terms with the fact they are in a nursing home, staff may have difficulty convincing them of the reality.
  • Recreational: As stated above, not all wandering comes from negligence on the nursing home’s side or a cognitive breakdown by the resident. Some residents may simply be seeking exercise due to boredom. Staff can fix this issue by allowing residents more supervised opportunities.


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