Many Albuquerque residents know someone who has dementia. Many times, those who have dementia need to eventually be placed in a long term care facility because they are no longer able to take care of themselves. But making the decision to place a loved one into a long-term care facility is not an easy one. Choosing a facility to meet the needs of a person with dementia is difficult with families having to put their complete trust in strangers. Most of the time their loved ones are well taken care of but occasionally there are instances of neglect. Dementia patients are particularly vulnerable and with their tendency to wander, can be more at risk of neglect.

Many people who are in a nursing home have some degree of dementia. It is estimated that over 50% of nursing home residents have some sort of dementia. One trait that many people with dementia share is wandering. Wandering is common among dementia patients who were at one time social and had an active lifestyle. If a person is given certain medications it can increase their desire to wander, such as antipsychotic medications and sedatives. Other causes of wandering can be confusion, boredom, searching for a loved one, disorientation, and searching to fulfill an unmet need.

Nursing homes have an obligation to understand their residents and identify those who are most at risk of wandering. They need to create a plan for each resident and maintain adequate staffing so that residents remain safe. A facility can also create safe places for their residents to wander, hide exits, use safety locks and bed alarms, among many other interventions.

Nursing home residents who have a tendency to wander can be challenging for nursing homes. But it is their obligation to keep these residents safe. A nursing home resident can suffer injury and even death if they leave the nursing home on their own. If a family believes their loved one was injured because of neglect in a long-term care facility they may want to speak with a legal professional who is skilled in nursing home abuse. An attorney can review the circumstances surrounding the incident and get the answers a family deserves as to what happened to their loved one.