Alzheimer’s Residents More Likely to Wander and Elope
For the estimated 5.5 million Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a debilitating memory and mental behavior disease – life is not easy. And as these people with one of the most common types of dementia age, 75 percent of them will be admitted to a nursing home by their 80th birthday and become fully dependent on someone else to care for them. Unfortunately, there are too many times when these residents are ignored, abused or tragically lost in a wandering or elopement incident. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reports there are close to 2 million cases of elder abuse incidences each year for dementia residents living in community settings such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Most long-term care ombudsman will say the true incident rates are likely to be much higher though since abuse can come in many different ways including neglect.
Wandering and elopement represent some of the many behavioral problems triggered by nursing home neglect occurring in residents with the Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In fact, six out of 10 people with dementia will wander and aimlessly move about within the facility or grounds without regard of their personal safety. For a better understanding of this phenomena, the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) has identified several different reasons for wandering in nursing homes as well as the different types of wandering such as environmentally cued wandering, recreational wandering, agitated purposeful wandering, fantasy and reminiscent wandering, and elopement. Elopement is the most dangerous type of wandering and occurs when a patient attempts to completely leave the nursing home and wander outside. Patients are often seriously hurt or killed during this type of wandering.