Local News

Elderly Woman Wanders Away From Carrboro Assisted Living Home

Posted December 28, 2005 10:00 a.m. EST

— A Carrboro adult-care center is under investigation after an elderly woman wandered away and apparently spent the night in the woods. The exposure landed her in the hospital.

Carrboro Senior Living is considered an assisted living facility, not a nursing home. That means residents are allowed to come and go as they please. Now social services investigators are trying to find out how the home failed to keep track of a 73-year-old woman.


Ann Hansen and Ester Henderson are like sisters. The women are so close that now Hansen's family considers Ms. Henderson to be part of their family. Ms. Henderson likes to walk. But sometime last Friday or early Saturday, she walked out of Carrboro Senior Living undetected by staff. She apparently fell and spent hours alone in the woods behind the home.

"It really, really, really upset me," said Hansen's daughter Christine Henry. "It just broke my heart to think of her laying outside in the cold."

A few months earlier, Ms. Henderson turned up with unexplained bruises on her arms. Social Services are investigating both complaints.

A records check shows Carrboro Senior Living was fined $2,000 by the state in 2004 for failing to administer insulin to a diabetic resident for three days. Other complaints cover food and cleanliness.

Owner Dawn Oldham said those problems happened before she took over, stating: "I turned this place around. These residents get outstanding care. They are loved." On legal advice, she declined to talk about Ms. Henderson's disappearance.

"I think they need to go around more and do more checking up to see where their people are," said Henry.

Henry still trusts her mother's care to the facility because her family is constantly on top of staff. She worries about the rest.

"Old people who don't have anybody to advocate for them just do not get taken care of like they should be," she said.

Ms. Henderson is said to have limited family, and they were unavailable for comment. She was due to get out of the hospital on Wednesday. It's unclear where she will go next. Orange County Social Services continues to investigate.