Michigan nursing homes who serve dementia patients must find an appropriate balance between allowing reasonable free movement and basic human dignity, and providing the barriers necessary to keep confused or agitated residents safe.
A well-run, ethical nursing home will have a procedure in place to identify patients at risk of wandering – also called eloping – due to dementia symptoms. This procedure will include methods for assessing risks, individualized treatment plans to prevent wandering, and staff training to ensure all team members observe the best practices for safety. The physical facility will also be built with safe elopement prevention in mind, including security locks on key doors, secure elevators and monitoring equipment. A 1997 study found that creating a stimulating environment, including exercise and walking programs, reduced aggressive behavior in wandering patients.
Facilities that fail to observe these basic practices put dementia patients at risk of injury and death from traffic, accidental falls and other hazards while they are wandering outside the nursing home. In Michigan, the risk is especially serious during winter months due to the severe cold.
In an effort to cut costs and increase profits, some nursing homes practice improper methods for preventing their dementia patients from leaving – including unnecessary sedation, overuse of restraints, and even abuse of patients used as a threat to prevent elopement. These practices put residents of dementia at risk of physical injury and mental trauma.
A patient who elopes from a facility due to improper security or under qualified staff is a victim of elder neglect. One who suffers unnecessary sedation or restraint, or threats from staff, is a victim of elder abuse. In either case, facilities not held responsible for their dangerous choices will continue to harm elderly patients until they are held legally accountable.
Contact Our Dementia and Wandering Lawyers
Buckfire Law’s legal experts investigate dozens of elder neglect and abuse cases each year, including elopement cases among patients of dementia. If your family member was harmed or died in a dementia-related case of neglect or abuse, our top-rated team of nursing home neglect attorneys has a proven record of getting clients the settlements they deserve. Call our office now at (800) 606-1717 to speak with one of our experienced lawyers about your case. Our team at Buckfire Law offers free consultation and will represent you under our No Fee Promise, which means you do not pay any legal fees until we win or settle your case.