Wandering is a common problem in nursing homes. Residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may wander off and become lost or injured. In some cases, nursing homes can be held liable for injuries caused by wandering residents. Every year, thousands of residents wander away from their nursing homes and are injured or killed as a result. Here’s what to know about wandering and what you can do if your loved one has been injured in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
What Is Wandering?
Wandering refers to the activity of walking around aimlessly, without any sort of purpose or specific destination. It is a common behavior among people with dementia and can pose many dangers to both the wanderer and those around them.
While wandering may seem harmless, it can lead to serious injuries or even death. Wanderers are often unaware of their surroundings and may not realize when they are putting themselves in danger. This can lead to falls, head injuries, broken bones, and even exposure to the elements if they wander outdoors.
Wandering can also be extremely confusing and disorienting for both the wanderer and their loved ones. It is not uncommon for wanderers to become lost, or even end up in places they do not recognize. This can be especially distressing for family members who may not be able to find their loved one.
How Does Wandering Occur?
Wandering most often occurs when a nursing home resident is not properly supervised. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including understaffing, staff negligence, or simply because the residents are not being monitored as closely as they should be. If a resident wanders away from the nursing home and is injured, the facility may be held liable for damages.
Wandering may also occur in facilities that aren’t designed properly. For example, if a staff member fails to lock a door, it would be easy for a resident to wander out of the building and get lost or hurt. Or, if the layout of the facility is confusing or difficult to navigate, residents may become disoriented and wander into hazardous areas.
Injuries Caused By Wandering
Falls are the most common type of injury caused by wandering. Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable to falling because they often have underlying medical conditions that can cause dizziness or make it difficult to move around safely, especially if they’re not being supervised. They may also be taking medications that can cause drowsiness or impair their ability to balance.
Head Injuries & Broken Bones
Head injuries and broken bones are also common among nursing home residents who wander off and get lost. They often occur after falls due to weakened bones from conditions like osteoporosis but may occur from bumping into things or colliding with other residents in hallways and common spaces.
Dehydration, Exposure, & Emotional Distress
When elderly patients wander off, they often become disoriented and lost, which can lead to panic and anxiety. In some cases, this can even lead to hallucinations or delusions. If a nursing home resident becomes severely confused, they may be at risk for dehydration, exposure to the elements, or even death. Patients who wander may experience severe emotional distress depending on the circumstances and what happened during the wandering episode.
How to Report a Nursing Home
If your loved one has been injured while wandering in a nursing home, it is important to file a report with the proper authorities. In many cases, the nursing home can be held responsible for the injuries suffered by the wanderer, particularly if wandering occurred due to an error or mistake on the part of the nursing home.
To file a report, you will need to contact the local police department or sheriff’s office and provide them with information about the incident. You should also contact your state’s attorney general’s office and file a complaint so the state can investigate the incident and take legal action against the nursing home if necessary. You should also contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can help your loved one get compensated for their injuries.
Call a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney For Help Today
If your loved one has been injured while wandering in a nursing home, you may be wondering if you have any legal recourse. The answer depends on the circumstances of the case, but a lawyer can help you investigate and determine whether or not you have a case.
For example, if the nursing home knew that the resident was a wanderer but did not take steps to prevent it, such as keeping doors and windows locked, they could be held accountable for negligence. Another scenario in which a long-term care facility may be held liable is if a patient wanders and becomes injured due to a high patient-to-staff ratio that resulted in inadequate supervision.
Contact Mazow | McCullough today for more information at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.