One of the most common
news subjects I see come out of the Assisted Living industry
is of residents who wander off of the premises of their assisted
living facility or care setting, only to either be found later,
scared and confused, or to be found deceased. The most recent
one I read was only a few days ago (August 19, 2008) of a woman
from Long Beach, California suffering from dementia and takes
medication, who wandered away from an emergency room. The disturbing
thing about this was, apparently, the assisted living facility
where she resided did not notify her family for 10 days.
She is still
missing as of this writing.
It is a common way to
deal with restlessness - going for a walk. Many assisted living
facilities have ample hallways or grounds
to allow for walking. This is a nice evolution in assisted living
and long-term care - as the facilities of yesteryear were more
prison-like, and residents were often behind lock and key for
most of the day.
However, when a resident
is prone to wandering, and the resident suffers from dementia
or Alzheimer's, or any other mental disorder, then precautions
must be taken to ensure their safety. Many facilities now have
only one entry/exit point that is monitored carefully. Others
employ ankle or wrist bracelets to help track their residents.
If it isn't in the mainstream already, then it is only a matter
of time before facilities use GPS (global positioning systems)
devices to track their residents' locations precisely at all
Questions to ask any
prospective facility include: Do they have 24-hour security
and staffing? Where are the entry/exit points? Do they keep
a thorough, up-to-date emergency and family contact list? Have
there been any previous incidents with missing residents?
Facilities can also
help residents cope by offering exercise classes and equipment.
Treadmills and stationary bikes can be a great way to burn off
the restlessness, and also improve well-being. Other classes
such as yoga and meditation can also help residents to calm
I think about a bumper
sticker that I see from time to time that says "All who
wander aren't really lost." In the case of those in an
assisted living environment, they very well may be lost.
- by the staff at
Assisted Living Directory