I’ll never get accustomed to the fact that many elderly will suffer an injury or die due to the carelessness of people who are intended to care for them. It seems that every few weeks we hear about an elderly person who mysteriously goes missing from a facility and wanders to his or her death. Despite the frequency, it still outrages me when I hear about such completely preventable situations.
Most recently, I was saddened to hear about the death of 63-year-old Rosemary Nelson who was found dead along the shoulder of the road after wandering from a California convalescent home. Ms. Nelson’s body was discovered three days after she was reported missing from the facility that was responsible for her care. A medical examiner concluded Ms. Nelson’s death was due to ‘exposure’
According to a report from Ms. Nelson’s family, Ms. Nelson had a history of wandering from facilities and had gone missing from other board-and-care facilities in the past.
Of course its easy to come up with excuses why this elderly woman managed to wander from this skilled nursing facility, yet the reality most certainly remains that someone at the facility was not doing their job when this lady managed to leave undetected. As a society we must begin to demand that nursing homes begin to look after our elders the same way we expect nursery schools to look after out toddlers. Until we demand full accountability, we will likely continue to hear about elderly who wandered into a world they are ill equipped to handle.
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