As the population ages, nursing homes have become vital to our society, providing essential care and support for our elderly loved ones. However, an alarming trend has emerged in recent years: the rise in wandering cases in nursing homes.
What is Wandering?
Wandering is common among individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's, characterized by aimless and disoriented movement. However, anyone can be vulnerable to wandering.
In nursing homes, wandering can take many forms, including residents leaving their rooms, walking around the facility, or even attempting to leave the premises altogether. This behavior can be triggered by various factors, such as confusion, anxiety, agitation, or an unmet need (e.g., hunger, thirst, or the need to use the restroom).
Why is Wandering on the Rise in Nursing Homes?
Several factors contribute to the rise in wandering cases in nursing homes. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Increasing prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. As the population ages, the number of individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's disease has also increased. According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer's dementia, which is expected to continue growing. As more individuals with these conditions enter nursing homes, the likelihood of wandering incidents also rises.
- Understaffing and lack of training. Many nursing homes struggle with understaffing, leading to inadequate supervision and monitoring of residents. Furthermore, staff members may not receive adequate training on how to manage wandering behaviors and prevent dangerous situations.
- Inadequate facility design. Some nursing homes may not have been designed with wandering residents in mind, lacking proper barriers or security measures to prevent residents from leaving the premises unsupervised.
The Risks Associated With Wandering
Wandering incidents can pose significant risks to the safety and well-being of nursing home residents. Some of the most common dangers include:
- Injury: Residents who wander may be at a higher risk of falls, which can lead to severe injuries and complications.
- Elopement: In some cases, wandering residents may leave the nursing home premises altogether, putting themselves at risk of traffic accidents, exposure to harsh weather conditions, or becoming lost.
- Emotional distress: Wandering can cause significant anxiety and stress for the resident and their family members, who may worry about their loved one's safety and well-being.
- Neglect: When residents wander, they may not receive the appropriate care and attention they need, such as assistance with personal hygiene or medication administration.
Strategies to Prevent Wandering Incidents
Nursing homes can implement several effective strategies to prevent wandering incidents and ensure the safety of their residents.
- Individualized care plans: Creating personalized care plans for each resident can help address the triggers and needs contributing to wandering behavior. By understanding the root causes of wandering, caregivers can anticipate and proactively address these issues.
- Staff training: Providing ongoing training for staff members on recognizing and managing wandering behaviors is essential. This includes learning how to redirect wandering residents safely, utilizing non-pharmacological interventions, and understanding the importance of proper supervision.
- Environmental modifications: Changing the nursing home environment can help reduce the risk of wandering. This may include installing secure doors and windows, adding alarms or monitoring systems, and creating designated wandering paths within the facility.
- Engaging activities: Providing engaging and meaningful activities for residents can help reduce boredom, anxiety, and agitation, which may contribute to wandering behaviors. Activities should be tailored to the individual's interests, abilities, and cognitive level.
The rise in wandering cases in nursing homes is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By understanding the underlying causes of wandering behavior, implementing effective preventive strategies, and providing compassionate, individualized care, nursing homes can create a safer environment for their residents and alleviate the concerns of family members.
Giving the Injured a Voice
Don't let your loved one suffer in silence. If you suspect your family member is experiencing neglect or harm due to wandering incidents in their nursing home, it's time to take action. Our experienced and compassionate nursing home attorneys at Harvey & Foote Law Firm are dedicated to fighting for the rights of elderly residents and ensuring they receive the care and attention they deserve.
Don't wait any longer – your loved one's safety and well-being are too important to leave to chance. Contact Harvey & Foote Law Firm online or by phone so we can make a difference in your loved one's life. (505) 295-2245