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Elderly couple dementia Alzheimer’s escape Tennessee assisted living facility memorizing exit codes

Elderly couple who both have dementia escape care home using Morse code training husband learned in the military

  • An elderly couple used their knowledge of Morse code to escape from an assisted living facility in Tennessee
  • The man listened in on staff using an electronic door keypad, and used his knowledge of Morse Code to decipher the number he needed to enter to get out 
  • The pair went missing for about 30 minutes before a stranger found them about  two blocks from the facility
  • Husband revealed he had ‘previously worked with Morse code in the military’ and used the experience to learn the code of an electronic keypad 
  • State officials fined the Elmcroft home $2,000 as a result of the escape
  • Facility has since changed all of its exit codes and has promised to check on residents more frequently

A husband and wife living in an assisted living facility in Tennessee managed to break out of the ‘secure memory unit’ by using skills he picked up in the military.

The pair broke free from the Elmcroft in Lebanon near Nashville, after the man listened in on staff using an electronic door keypad, and used his knowledge of Morse Code to decipher the number he needed to get out, officials say.

The man, who has dementia, and the woman, who has Alzheimer’s disease, were found wandering outside two blocks away from the facility by a stranger who picked them up and brought them back to the home.

They had been missing for half an hour. 

An elderly couple used their knowledge of Morse code to escape from an assisted living facility in Tennessee

The husband revealed he had 'previously worked with Morse code in the military' and used the experience to learn the code of an electronic keypad (file photo)

The husband revealed he had ‘previously worked with Morse code in the military’ and used the experience to learn the code of an electronic keypad (file photo)

Staff were unable to explain how the couple managed to escape the facility, which is secured behind a locked door with an electronic keypad. 

Upon being questioned, the man explained how he had ‘previously worked with Morse code in the military’, according to an investigation by the health care facilities licensing board.

He used his experience to listen to staff as they punched the PIN combination into the door to make their escape according to Tennessee Department of Health documents seen by The Tennessean. The couple were not identified by name in the records.

As a result of the breakout, Elmcroft was fined $2,000 by state officials. 

The facility also said that it will stop similar incidents from happening by checking on residents more frequently and make the sure man who escaped will have more ‘walking time outside the facility with a staff member present,’ according to state records. 

The man’s daughter has also promised to visit more regularly to take her father outside frequently.

The pair went missing for about 30 minutes before a stranger found them about two blocks from the facility (file photo)

The pair went missing for about 30 minutes before a stranger found them about two blocks from the facility (file photo)

The Elmcroft has also changed all of the combinations on its exit doors.    

‘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,’ a statement from the facility reads. 

‘We reported the situation to the state and their family immediately after it happened and fully cooperated with the state during its review.’

The Elmcroft assisted living facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, pictured, has also changed all of the combinations on its exit doors as a result of the episode

The Elmcroft assisted living facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, pictured, has also changed all of the combinations on its exit doors as a result of the episode

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