Wandering and Elopement from Nursing Homes

Has your loved one suffered injuries or death after leaving a nursing home unsupervised or being left to wander in an Illinois nursing home?

When long-term care residents are not properly supervised and allowed to move about or away from a facility on their own, they are at risk for suffering serious injuries and even death. Nursing home elopement and wandering are related concepts, and in most cases are a result of poor supervision by staff. 

  • Elopement refers to a resident’s ability to leave the facility unsupervised and unnoticed, putting the resident’s safety in danger. 
  • Wandering refers to aimless movement throughout the facility where the resident puts his safety at risk due to an inability to appreciate danger.

Nursing homes are required to provide each resident with the appropriate level of supervision to address elopement and wandering behaviors. If a resident has a tendency to wander or has tried to leave the nursing home on his or her own, the nursing homes must recognize these behaviors and implement a care plan with measures to prevent the resident from leaving or wandering. This may include:

  • operating with sufficient staff
  • ensuring all exit doors have alarms and that they work properly
  • ensure that staff are educated on how to respond to these alarms

When nursing home staff members fail to implement measures to address wandering or elopement behaviors, residents are at a higher risk for falls, exposure to harsh weather conditions, and other significant dangers.


If you believe that a loved one suffered injuries as a result of negligence, it is important to take action early to protect your rights. Our attorneys have represented clients in a number of lawsuits involving elopement and wandering from nursing homes and may be able to help you. Feel free to contact us online or call us at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 for a confidential and free nursing home case consultation.


Some of our verdicts and settlements in cases involving wandering and elopement include but are not limited to:

  • $1 million Cook County Jury verdict for the family of a 54-year-old nursing home resident who exited a window on the fifth floor of the nursing home and died from fall-related injuries.  The jury found the nursing home to be negligent in failing to prevent the resident from exiting through the window.
  • $950,000 settlement against a nursing home for allowing an 85-year-old woman with dementia to wander outside the nursing home, where she froze to death.
  • $825,000 settlement for a 75-year-old nursing home resident with dementia and a history of wandering who died of hypothermia after exiting the facility in bitter cold temperatures resulting from the home’s failure to verify if his tracking bracelet was functioning, properly supervise him, and promptly notify the police.
  • $475,000 settlement for the family of a 41-year-old man who fell to his death after exiting a fourth floor nursing home window. The victim was left unsupervised by staff despite the fact that he was a known suicide risk who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and required round-the-clock care and supervision by facility staff.



Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog - Wandering