Elderly Oregon residents who reside in nursing homes or who are hospitalized may be at risk for becoming disoriented and walking away from their facilities. A new environment coupled with unfamiliar faces can create a dangerous recipe for confusion and subsequent flight of the senior patient. Health care professionals who recognize the situations that trigger wandering and who employ a few simple measures can help safeguard older adults who may be prone to leaving undetected.
Elderly individuals who function well from day to day may suddenly experience disordered thinking when thrust into a new, stressful environment such as a hospital. General anesthesia can produce temporary dementia in some patients that can be exacerbated by pain, strange noises and unfamiliar people. The person who has no previous history of confusion may be at significant risk for flight because their family and hospital staff are not expecting the behavior.
Many preventive measures can be taken to protect seniors when they live in assisted living facilities or when they are hospitalized. Assessing an older adult’s orientation to person, time and place at different hours of the day can unmask the beginnings of dementia and alert staff to the potential of flight. Once a patient has been identified to be at risk, security practices such as frequent monitoring, identifying him or her with a different colored gown and electronic motion detectors can help keep the person safe.
People whose loved ones have been harmed due to hospital or nursing home negligence often face significant medical bills and other expenses related to the incident. A personal injury lawyer who handles medical malpractice cases can negotiate with the health care facility in an attempt to reach a settlement or file a lawsuit seeking available damages.