When loved ones need nursing home care, there’s a certain expectation that they will be kept as safe and healthy as possible during their stay. When a patient is allowed to wander off the facilities, this is called “elopement.” It’s incredibly dangerous for the resident, especially if they have cognitive issues. It’s also a sign of nursing home neglect.
Understanding nursing home elopement
Nursing homes have an obligation to protect their residents, including making sure that they don’t leave the premises. When elderly residents wander to different areas, or off the grounds, they’re in danger of falling, serious injury and even death, depending on the time of year and other factors.
Nursing home residents wander off and elope for a variety of reasons. They may have unmet physical needs, like food and water, causing them to look for help. Cognitive issues, such as confusion, dementia, Alzheimer’s and medication changes can also contribute to the problem. Sometimes residents are distressed about their unfamiliar environment, and attempt to go home to visit their loved ones. Others may suffer from unmet psychological and emotional needs, sleep disorders or an undiagnosed illness.
All of these factors are understandable—but it’s still the nursing home’s responsibility to monitor residents and care for their needs. They should also have adequate security in place to ensure residents can’t leave without anyone noticing.
What to do about nursing home elopement
If your loved one has wandered away from their nursing home, this is often a sign of nursing home neglect. Nursing home neglect cases are usually litigated on a theory of negligence. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the nursing home had a duty of care to the patient, they breached that duty and as a result, the patient suffered actual harm.
In elopement cases, the fact of the elopement and the nursing home’s duty of care are usually easy to prove. Most cases hinge on whether the home breached their duty (that is, whether they could have prevented the patient from escaping) and whether the patient suffered actual harm (injuries, illness or even death).
If your loved one suffered harm after nursing home elopement, legal help is available. Call the Law Offices of Tim Misny to learn more about your legal options, as well as the compensation you can recover on your loved one’s behalf.
Call an Ohio nursing home abuse attorney today
The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your nursing home abuse claim. If your loved one was injured due to a nursing home’s negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (800) 556-4769 so that I can evaluate your case right away.