An elderly couple with dementia managed to escape from a care home by using Morse code skills the husband learned in the military. The husband and wife duo went on the run from the Elmcroft assisted living facility in Lebanon, near Nashville, Tennessee, after the man used his armed forces training to crack the home’s security-coded door. The pair broke free after, over time, the husband listened in on staff using an electronic door keypad and used his knowledge of Morse Code to figure out the number he needed to use to open the door, according to officials. The man, who has dementia, and the woman, who has Alzheimer’s disease, were found wandering around outside a few streets away by a stranger who picked them up and took them back to Elmcroft.
They had been missing for around 30 minutes, according to a report by the Tennessee Department of Health care home licensing board, which launched an investigation into the security breach. During the probe, staff were unable to explain how the couple managed to escape the facility, officials said. Upon being questioned, the man explained how he had ‘previously worked with Morse code in the military’, and managed to use the skills to crack the code. A report details how the resident was ‘able to listen to the code when staffed punched in the numbers and was able to figure out the number for the numeric code to exit the memory care unit’.
The couple were not identified in the records. As a result of the breakout, Elmcroft was fined $2,000 by state officials, The Tennessean reported. The facility also vowed to stop similar incidents from happening again by checking on residents more frequently. They also said they will 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. Following the incident, Elmcroft officials said they have 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.’