Articles Posted in Wandering

shutterstock_680112613-300x163Your loved one is having trouble remembering certain facts; they are disoriented and confused about a lot of details. It seems like they may have a condition beyond just aging memory issues and something more akin to developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s worth investigating whether your loved one needs Memory Care and if so what to look for in a nursing home that offers this type of specialized care.

What is Memory Care?

Memory Care differs from regular care at nursing homes or assisted living facilities because Memory Care is specifically designed for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Unlike an assisted living facility where a resident has enough independence to set their own schedules, (such as deciding when they will eat and when to engage in activities) a Memory Care facility is more like a nursing home in that the resident must have the staff manage their time and attend to their needs very closely.

shutterstock_1717046857-300x203When you and your family make the decision to place your elderly loved one into a nursing home, you want to have the reassurance that they are safe. This is especially true when they suffer from a cognitive disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia.  You rely on the facility to monitor them and to always know what they are doing. But what happens when the nursing home staff isn’t keeping a close eye on their residents and they move around freely or actually wander away? Read on to learn about what you should know about wandering and elopement in nursing homes.

How Does it Happen?

Wandering or elopement in nursing homes occurs when residents walk throughout the facility or even more troubling- wander outside of the home. This usually happens as a result of inadequate care likely because the staff isn’t watching or monitoring the residents closely. For example, a nursing home resident with dementia could be confused and believe that they need to complete a task, such as taking out the trash. They wander around the facility to try to find the garbage and then continue looking for more trash until they can finish the job.  At any time, a memory from the resident’s past can trigger them into action and the urge to leave the facility immediately. Meanwhile the staff members have no idea where this resident has gone. Specifically, this type of situation can stem from understaffing, improper training, or because the staff is not following protocol.

According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. Dementia, which is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking, causes many who suffer from it to lose the ability to perform their regular activities.

Elders are stricken with dementia far more than any other age group. In many cases, dementia is the reason an elder moves into a nursing home. Dementia is also often to blame for what is known as “elopement” or in layman’s terms, wandering. Elders with dementia may develop wandering tendencies, wherein due to cognitive impairment, they begin to wander around their nursing home unsupervised and without an escort.

Wandering may lead to serious injury as the result of falling. In some cases wandering has even led to death, in cases where residents have wandered outside of their residential facility. Though rare, wandering is dangerous enough that lawmakers included provisions to protect against it in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The law required that nursing homes must provide residents with adequate supervision in effort to prevent elderly patients from wandering. That means of course, that nursing homes must be properly staffed.

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