Some forms of neglect and abuse might not seem serious or even bad. But, they can have devastating consequences for your loved one. One such example is wandering by a nursing home resident due to the neglect of the staff members. You might think that this issue is not serious. But, unsupervised residents that need the help of trained professionals can become dangerous. For more information on wandering and its consequences, read on.
When nursing homes don’t watch residents properly, they can wander into unsupervised areas. Wandering gets defined by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA). They define it as the random, aimless meandering of a person that exposes them to harm. If a nursing home resident wanders off of the home’s property, this is “elopement”.
Who is at Risk for Wandering and Elopement?
All mobile elderly people in nursing homes are at risk for wandering or elopement. A healthy elderly person may try to get away from assistance. This is because they want to be independent or because they are attempting to get away from an abusive staff member. Other elderly people may try to wander or elope due to issues such as:
- A disability.
- Memory issues.
- Cognitive issues.
- Behavioral problems.
- Poor spatial skills.
- Difficulty with abstract thinking.
- Poor social skills or interaction in the nursing home.
- Failure to understand boundaries.
- Short attention span.
All nursing home residents should get monitored by those assisting them.
Consequences of Wandering
This issue can have both positive and negative consequences. In some cases, moving in a safe environment can promote health and exercise. So long as the wanderer is not in an unsafe environment, this issue is not considered a problem. But, wandering can have negative effects for elderly people involved in eloping or wandering to a dangerous place. Some negative consequences of this action include:
- Increased anxiety.
- Balancing issues.
- Becoming lost.
- Heat exhaustion.
- Inappropriate exposure to the cold.
- Not receiving proper medication or treatment at the necessary time.
- Entering an unsafe area.
- Entering a place with safety hazards.
- Getting exploited by another person.
Wandering Prevention and Recognition
If your loved one has a history of this issue, you should inform the nursing home of this issue as soon as possible. A good nursing home will take note of this issue. The home will include a solution in your loved one’s care plan to ensure that they are watched carefully. This will prevent the negative outcomes of this action. The nursing home may feel that it is best to make modifications to your loved one’s environment. This can prevent wandering and keep them safe.
The nursing home should never prevent your loved one from walking around or exercising. But, the home should make sure that these actions are safe. Designated walking paths that are safe should be established for your loved one. This will help them experience the positive affects of this action while preventing the negative ones. It is important that when you visit your loved one, you ask your loved one about recent wandering. Talk about unexplained injuries that they may have gotten while wandering. Getting the facts about your loved one’s wandering can help you prevent it in the future.
If you find that your loved one has developed a habit of wandering or eloping in their new nursing home, talk to the staff. Your loved one should not be allowed to wander unsupervised. You need to come up with a plan to get the nursing home staff to give your loved one more help and supervision. If the staff cannot give your loved one more attention, your loved one might be the victim of neglect. You should remove your loved one from the nursing home as soon as possible. Consider filing a report against the nursing home.