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Monday, 3 May 2021

Elderly couple use military Morse code training to decipher electronic door pin and escape care home in Tennessee

 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 determine 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

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 Tennessee Department of Health care home licensing board. 

A report explains that 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 by name in the records.

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

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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