If you have struggled with the decision to have a senior loved one move into a senior community of some sort whether it be an assisted living facility or a nursing home, you know this decision is a tough one. While many of these places are beautiful with amenities like movie theaters, gyms, hair salons, restaurants, and pubs, it’s difficult to let go of a parent or grandparent and place their care in the hands of others.
We have all heard horror stories of senior abuse, and maybe you’ve even seen videos online of caregivers being too rough with the elderly. Elder abuse is a shameful but very real problem in the United States, and while the thought of abusing an elderly person makes most of us sick to our stomach, some caregivers lose their patience and abuse the elderly.
One of the greatest challenges of all types of senior living facilities is making sure the residents don’t leave the facility; leaving the facility unsupervised and without anyone knowing is referred to as “elopement,” and anyone who works in these facilities will tell you that it’s a top concern of all employees. No one wants a beloved senior to elope on their watch, and even with alarms on doors, and technology to track the seniors’ movement, elopement is a very real problem in senior living communities all over the country.
While some assisted living facilities may look nice when you tour and meet with the marketing and admissions personnel, you never really know what happens when you leave your loved one in other people’s hands. Will they be treated kindly? Will all staff be caring and gentle? Are my parents going to be safe there at night? What happens if my mom needs help and nobody comes to assist her? These are the questions that many people have when making the decision of whether or not to place their senior loved one in the care of others.
Preventing Elderly Elopement
There are many ways to prevent elderly elopement in assisted living facilities. Many memory care units have an alarm on the doors, so if anyone but staff or family tries to get through the doors, an alarm will sound. This alerts the staff that a resident is trying to leave the unit, and the staff can then go to the door and assess whether or not the resident should go out of the memory care area.
Another technological feature found in assisted living communities is the pendant that residents must wear around their necks. When the resident goes off the property without staff knowing it, an alarm will sound in the building so the staff knows a senior resident has wandered off unsupervised. When residents leave the building for activities or with loved ones, they are to leave the pendant at the front desk and then retrieve it when they return from their outing.
Another way to ensure that residents don’t elope from the community is by having a great team who is on their toes and who knows each and every resident by name (and even family members). Unfortunately, the turnover in the nursing and nurses’ aide industry is very high, and some assisted living facilities will only have the same employees for a few weeks or months at a time. To ensure that all staff know the residents and understand who is allowed to be in what part of the building and with whom, it’s important to hire caring employees who pay attention to the residents in their care.
If your family feels your senior loved one has been abused or neglected, or if your parent or grandparent wandered off and got injured, you may want contact an elder abuse attorney in your area to schedule a free consultation today. The assisted living facility and staff have been charged with the care of your loved one, and they owe a duty of care to your elderly loved one. If that duty of care has been breached, you may have a valid legal claim.