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Know the dangers of wandering in nursing homes

Choosing a good nursing home for your loved one is probably a taxing or emotional process. You want to make sure your loved one is safe and receives proper care. Nursing home abuse may be a concern when making a choice, but you should also look into a home's security and ability to prevent wandering and elopement.

What are the risks of wandering?

Whenever a resident wanders the home without supervision, their chance of slipping and falling greatly increases. This can cause bruising, broken bones or other severe injuries. They may also have trouble standing or returning to their room without help.

Elopement is an even riskier situation. Elopement refers to a resident wandering out of the facility itself. This could not only lead to injury but there is also the potential for a resident to wander away and get lost if they are not spotted and brought back immediately.

Why do residents wander?

There are many reasons a resident could try to wander the home unattended. If they have Alzheimer's or dementia, they may forget where they are and believe there is something they have to do. Wandering may also be a response to discomfort from the new environment or a medication change. Some residents may wander to find a restroom if there is not enough staff to attend to them, or if they have a sleeping disorder and are restless.

How can I prevent the risk of wandering?

When choosing a nursing home, check the following preventative measures:

· Is the home fully staffed? An understaffed home means less supervision and more fatigued caretakers

· Are there security cameras? This helps the home spot potential danger

· Do they have an alarm system? Homes should have alarms to indicate if a resident is trying to leave the facility

You should also have very open communication. If your loved one has a condition that could put them at increased risk of wandering, such as Alzheimer's, inform the nursing home. Ask questions before you make a final decision and make sure safety and security measures are in place. You have every right to ask about alarms, safety protocol and other info that could affect your loved one's care there.

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