Caring and Competent Representation Across New Mexico

Is neglect to blame for an older adult’s elopement from care?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2023 | Personal Injury

Caring for older adults can be so challenging that family members may need to move a loved one into a specialized professional facility. Nursing homes and similar medical facilities are able to provide the intensive support and around-the-clock care that families often cannot.

Working professionals, for example, cannot dedicate themselves to the constant supervision of an older adult who now struggles to understand their life because of dementia. Nursing home care facilities, especially facilities with secure swings for those with age-related cognitive decline, are often crucial to someone’s health and safety later in life.

Unfortunately, some facilities are negligent when caring for vulnerable older adults, which can lead to elopement incidents wherein people get hurt.

Frightened older adults are unpredictable

Alzheimer’s disease and other medical issues that result in cognitive decline can provoke unpredictable behavior in older adults. For example, they may try to leave a space because they think they are unsafe, despite being in the facility for their own protection.

When the employees at a nursing home facility fail to support someone and keep their living space secure, the resident could potentially elope or leave the facility. Elopement incidents are dangerous for numerous reasons. Depending on when it happens, an elopement could lead to dangerous exposure for the older adult, as they could be outside without support for hours.

Elopement incidents can also lead to severe injuries, as older adults may stumble and fall or even end up hurt in traffic. They could also wander off, leaving professionals and loved ones unable to locate them.

Nursing homes should take preventative measures

Securing individual rooms and wings with high-risk patients, as well as the exterior of the building in general, is a crucial step for preventing elopement. Facilities typically also need to identify those who are more likely to elope and monitor them closely for their protection. Nursing homes that fail to keep residents safely housed may sometimes be responsible if those residents end up injured because of their elopement incident.

Family members struggling with the medical consequences of a recent elopement incident may have grounds upon which to bring a claim against the facility that failed to secure their loved one. Recognizing different forms of elder abuse and neglect can make people better advocates for their aging family members, as can seeking legal guidance whenever necessary.