Preventing Elopement in Long-Term Care Facilities

Preventing Elopement in Long-Term Care Facilities

It’s estimated that approximately 33% of nursing home residents and as much as 70% of older adults living in the community that has any cognitive decline will wander away from their supervised residences at some point.

Not all cases of wandering are dangerous. Regular physical activity helps to encourage social and cognitive stimulation and helps older adults maintain mobility. However, if wandering is unsupervised, it increases elopement risks. This may result in severe injury or death. According to, cases of elopement are scary for residents and their family members.

There are steps that those working in long-term care facilities can take to help reduce the risk and possibility of wandering.

Get to Know the Red Flags

Some residents make their desires to leave clear. These are individuals that are checked on often. However, any resident that has expressed their unhappiness about how long they must stay, or inquire about their discharge date, is also considered high risk for elopement. If someone views themselves as a caretaker for a pet or the wildlife in their yard, they are also at higher risk for leaving.

Make Sure to Ask the Right Questions

It’s essential to ask the right questions regarding a person’s behavioral history to learn about their patterns. Did the individual drink alcohol or smoke? If someone did either of these, they are at a much higher risk of wandering or elopement because they don’t have the ability to smoke or drink while in the facility.

Knowing the risks of elopement is the best way to prevent this problem.

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