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Updated April 16, 2014

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Unlike a couple that runs away to get married, elopement from nursing homes and assisted living facilities by residents with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is a major source of danger and even litigation. Traditionally defined as leaving a locked or secured psychiatric institution without notice or permission, the term has expanded to refer to the many residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of senior housing who wander away or leave secure dementia units without permission.

Up to 60% of people with dementia will wander at least once, and there are many causes of wandering in dementia. Facilities need to consider precautionary measures to decrease the risk of elopements, such as alarms, wrist bands, signs warning visitors of the risk, monitoring of exit doors, and even moving high risk residents to rooms that allow for closer staff supervision. When family members move their loved ones into a facility, they should alert the staff of any prior history of wandering or elopement attempts at other facilities.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Alzheimer's / Dementia
  4. Signs and Symptoms
  5. Alzheimer’s and Dementia- Definition of Elopement

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