Nursing Home Residents Can Wander Into Trouble

April 4th, 2017 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

A major problem for Maryland nursing homes, and for their residents, is when inhabitants wander and the physical and mental injuries that can result. If a resident is able to leave the premises or enter an area of the building that isn’t safe, it’s a sign the nursing home may be negligent; e.g., the resident isn’t being properly supervised or doors to the outside or to areas limited to employees aren’t locked or alarmed. These facilities have an obligation to keep residents safe.

Residents who wander may do so because they have some form of dementia or psychiatric condition. They may not know where they are or feel a need to go outside. They might not understand staff instructions that they shouldn’t leave the building. Other residents may be mentally competent but feel bored, stressed, want to get outside or feel rebellious.

Wandering can cause significant problems for the resident and anxiety and stress, if not panic, for family members. Falls are common for residents who wander because of fatigue, anxiety, balance or gait problems. Residents, especially those suffering some form of dementia, can get lost; even if a helpful stranger encounters them, they may not be able to tell their name or where they came from.

Wandering carries high risks:

  • Falling and suffering severe bruises, broken bones and head injuries. These injuries if not treated promptly could be very serious and potentially life-threatening.
  • Going into an area of the nursing home where there are safety hazards, such as chemicals, fire hazards, tools and equipment that pose safety threats.
  • Entering an area that is physically unsafe, such as stairwells, poorly lit areas, or parts of the building that may be undergoing repair or renovation or are under construction.
  • Exploitation or harm if the wandering resident encounters a person who poses a threat to the resident’s safety, including another resident or a person outside the facility.
  • Becoming lost and unable to get back to the nursing home.
  • Suffering from heat or cold exposure, drowning or being struck by a vehicle.
  • Suffering from dehydration and medical complications because the resident is not getting needed medication.

It is estimated that dozens of cognitively impaired elderly people die each year because they wandered,  reports the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners.

If the resident is injured or finds himself  or herself in a very stressful or dangerous situation, the person may feel overwhelmed or panicked. The stress of the situation may lead to an emotional breakdown. After returning to the facility, the resident may be fearful and afraid.

If you or a loved one in a Maryland nursing home or assisted living facility has suffered serious injuries or died because staff failed to keep them  safe, we can help you address the situation and seek compensation. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 1-866-529-5839 today to schedule a free consultation.

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