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Nursing Home Patient Wandering Accidents

Also referred to as elopement, wandering can refer to a circumstance where an individual cognitively impaired roams around a long-term care facility or nursing home without full knowledge of where he or she is heading.

In several cases of patients enduring dementia or Alzheimer’s, they may make an attempt to abandon the facility.

The propensity of a resident at a nursing home to elope or wander in a care plan initially should be recognized; the facility should implement preventative measures to diminish nursing home patient wandering accidents.

In the United States, there is an estimate of over 5 million individuals with Alzheimer’s, which is among several diseases which can lead to cognitive dysfunction and result in wandering.

It is estimated, in nursing homes, that over 65% of all patients possess some type of cognitive impairment or dementia.

Many times, it is not reported, however, that each year, nearly 35,000 Alzheimer’s patients wander unsupervised outside.

The nursing home residents are not equipped properly to take care of themselves once they wander off; typically, they don’t have the ability to return back to the facility safely.

This can result in nursing home patient wandering accidents, and may even include death.

The Prevention of Nursing Home Patient Wandering

For preventative measures, nursing homes should do the following:

Train staff at nursing home to identify residents who may wander easily from the facility; possess enough members of staff to recognize when any resident goes missing; use alarms for wheelchairs, doors, and beds for staff to be alerted of a resident going AWOL; redirect wandering residents; and with new patients with dementia, be watchful.

Four out of ten wanderings away from nursing facilities within 14 days of admittance occurred.

Doorways should be secured to prevent wanderings. About 50% of residents in a research regarding nursing home wanderings behind another individual through an outside door occurs.

Technology should be used to alert the nursing home staff if a resident exits the premises. Video surveillance, door alarms, and GPS patient tags can all be utilized.

The best measure to prevent subsequent wandering is for nursing homes to be vigilant of the residents who are most likely to wander.

Having meaningful activities, permitting wandering in an area that is safe and designated, and creating programs for exercise can be preventative steps used to diminish the incidents.

Tracking patterns, triggers, and other wandering behavior can help nursing home caregivers see the indications before a resident attempts to wander.

Nursing homes must be aware that the risks connected with wandering of patients, and take necessary precautions to keep these occurrences from arising initially.

Many disabled residents who elope the safety of a nursing home facility are hardly prepared to deal with daily life dangers, and usually sustain injuries in nursing home patient wandering accidents, as well as death. 


Many of the deaths from wandering are due to a resident being hit by a vehicle, abused physically or sexually, drowned, or from exposure.

Contact us for a free consultation or call Anzalone Law Firm PLLC, at: 603.548.3797.

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