Couple escapes assisted living facility by military Morse Code training | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
They listened and listened until the beeps and boops finally made sense.
And then it was time to go.
A husband and wife briefly escaped from a secure memory unit at an assisted living facility in Lebanon last month by using military experience with Morse code to decipher and memorize the code to an electronic door lock, according to Tennessee Department of Health documents obtained through a public records request.
The couple, who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, are not identified in the state records. They went missing from Elmcroft of Lebanon for about 30 minutes on March 2 before a stranger found them walking down a road two blocks from the facility, according to the documents.
Once back at the Elmcroft, staff were curious about how the couple had escaped from the facility’s memory unit, which is secured by a locked door with an electronic keypad, documents state.
The man said he “previously worked with Morse code in the military” and was able to use this experience to learn the door code by listening as staff punched numbers into the keypad, documents state.
As a result of the escape, Elmcroft of Lebanon was fined $2,000 by state officials. The assisted living facility told state regulators it will prevent similar incidents by checking on residents more frequently and scheduling the man who escaped for “walking time outside the facility with a staff member present,” according to state records.
Elmcroft of Lebanon also changed all its exit codes, according to a statement provided by the company.
“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,” the statement said. “We reported the situation to the state and their family immediately after it happened and fully cooperated with the state during its review.”
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Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @brettkelman.