Wandering and elopement are potentially serious problems in a nursing home. Patients suffering from dementia, autism, Down syndrome, stroke, head injuries, or Parkinson’s disease are all at risk for this danger.
Wandering involves the patient leaving the facility for a specific purpose in their mind, such as attempting to reduce the amount of stimulation they are receiving or to increase it. There are many different types of wandering though.
Elopement is a form of wandering and occurs when the person leaves the nursing home and does not return. This is the most dangerous type of wandering, according to experts, and will often be repeated.
Many of these above mentioned diseases cause brain functions to increasingly decline. Some of the signs include disorientation, confusion, loss of memory, and difficulty in communicating. Add this up and you can readily see how a nursing home patient could inadvertently wander away from the premises. Worse yet, when they are found, they may not be able to explain where they are supposed to be.
These are not rare events either. Approximately 20% of dementia patients will wander away at least once.
Nursing Home Security
A lack of security in the nursing home or assisted living facility can provide an opportunity for a stranger to gain access to the building and commit many types of crime. This is why it is essential that you notice if exterior doors are locked and that visitors are required to sign a log to enter.
Fire exits can provide problems with building security for patients, since they cannot be secured in case of an emergency. Alarms and a light indicator for an open door can deal with this issue though.
A proper security system can provide safety on multiple fronts in that it can control access by visitors, strangers, and keep the residents inside and prevent them from walking away. So, such a system can do double duty–help prevent strangers from entering the building undetected and assist in keeping the residents safe and secure inside where they belong, particularly those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Annals of Long Term Care
National Center on Elder Abuse