When Elders Elope

Early one morning in late August, an 82-year-old woman wandered away from her Batesburg, SC, nursing home. She was found nearly eight hours later; fortunately, she was unharmed. If this incident had occurred during winter weather, or if she had wandered into the path of a vehicle, the outcome could have been tragic.

In elder care terminology, this nursing home resident “eloped.” The National Institute for Elopement Prevention and Resolution defines elopement as “when a patient wanders away, walks away, runs away, escapes, or otherwise leaves a care-giving facility or environment unsupervised, unnoticed, and/or prior to their scheduled discharge.” Another term sometimes used is “critical wandering.”

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