Elopement, which occurs when a nursing home resident takes unauthorized leave of the facility, is not a behavior that is limited to those residents having known cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In fact, it is more often the case that younger residents having full control of their cognitive faculties are at risk of eloping from nursing home facilities for a variety of personal reasons. Some residents have difficulty adjusting to life in the nursing home, which prompts them to try and escape the facility. Similarly, some residents feel that they have lost their autonomy and thus act out against authority figures. There are also residents who enter the nursing home environment having pre-existing substance abuse issues, which can cause the resident to elope from the facility in order to satiate his or her addiction. These are all reasons why a person might elope from his or her nursing home.
Sometimes circumstances change suddenly. For instance, a perfectly healthy elderly individual living independently might suffer a fall and break a hip, making it necessary for him or her to live in a nursing home after the injury. Those who are new to the nursing home lifestyle may experience a sense of loss concerning their autonomy or independence, especially those residents who are fairly young. Younger residents seem to be more affected by the change and can harbor feelings of unfairness, depression and anxiety.
It can also be hard to lose old friends and move into a new, unfamiliar environment. Nursing homes generally operate such that residents are on a schedule: dining, social activities, sleep and medication administration are all according to a routine. This can be quite a change for someone whose life before the nursing home was largely unscheduled and unconstrained.
Problems with Authority and Forfeiting Independence
Sometimes new residents develop feelings of regret, loss, isolation or abandonment. These feelings can manifest as rebellious behavior or in actions that are highly antagonistic. There can also be defiance of nursing home staff and doctors since these people represent authority figures and make for easy targets at which to lash out.
Substance Abuse Problems
There are instances in which residents come to the home and bring their substance abuse problems with them. Whether it is a problem with alcohol, an illegal drug addiction, or abuse of prescription drugs, the drive to satisfy the addiction can be so great that it will prompt a resident to elope from the facility.
Nursing Homes Are Responsible for Preventing Elopement
Nursing home staff has a duty to protect the residents of the home, and that includes taking precautions to prevent instances of elopement. If you are concerned that the nursing home that cares for your loved one is not taking appropriate measures to prevent elopement, or your loved one has successfully eloped from a home, please contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney today. Do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Rooth Law Firm either online or by phone at (800) 598-4348.
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