An elderly couple managed to escape an assisted living facility in Tennessee using “morse code” to plan their breakout. The unnamed couple, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia, is said to have made a swift exit from a secure memory care unit at Elmcroft of Lebanon after figuring out the code for the electronic door, Newsweek reports. Thankfully, they were found and returned safely.
- They only managed to escape for about 30 minutes. The couple was found by a stranger, who somehow knew to return them to Elmcroft. They were unharmed during their March 2 outing, though the facility was fined $2,000 for the escape and has been forced to change all of its access codes to ensure something similar doesn’t happen again.
- So how did Morse code come into play? According to the man, he “previously worked with Morse code in the military” and was able to use that training to decipher the code used for the exit door, the Tennessee Board For Licensing Health Care Facilities reports. How clever is that?
- The staff referred to the couple’s brief escape as an “elopement.” A report on the incident, filed April 7, stated: “Resident #1 stated that he was able to listen to the code when staff punched in the numbers and was able to figure out the number for the numeric to exit the memory care unit. The document added that while the man had previously “exhibited wandering behaviors,” his wife’s file “contained no documentation of attempted elopements.”
- The staff is now taking extra steps to ensure the couple’s safety. Moving forward, there will be more “walking time outside the facility with a staff member present” for the man in order to “decrease these exit-seeking behaviors.” In addition, the couple’s daughter is taking her father on outings away from Elmcroft more regularly. The facility insists it takes safety for all of its residents seriously, saying in a statement to The Tennessean: “The safety of our residents is the top priority at our senior living community. We are thankful both residents were returned to the community safely. We reported the situation to the state and their family immediately after it happened and fully cooperated with the state during its review.”