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5 nursing home red flags

It is very important to you to find the best possible nursing home for your aging parents. You know that they need care and assistance. You know that living on their own is dangerous; one fall could lead to some serious medical bills or, tragically, could even turn fatal.

At the same time, you do not just want to pick any nursing home. The quality of care that they get has a massive impact on their lives moving forward. You love your parents. You do not want to accidentally put them in a home where they are in danger or where they get neglected by the staff.

To help, here are five red flags you should look for as you check out the homes near you:

1. Excess noise and chaos

A nursing home should be a calm, relaxing place for your loved ones to live. Excessive noise and a generally chaotic setting can leave them feeling stressed and agitated. After all, they are used to living alone in their own house. The nursing home will not fully replicate that, but it should make them comfortable.

2. Disconnected staff members

Staff members should look at their jobs as more than jobs. Residents are not just numbers or patients. They're people. Staff members should know their names and have friendly relationships with them. If the staff seems disconnected and it looks like workers do not really care about the residents, that's worrying.

3. Few choices

Nursing homes need some structure, but they should still offer choices. If residents get the same food and entertainment every single day, they're not going to enjoy it for long. They should have choices and options. They need to feel like they still have control of their lives. Something should appeal to everyone.

4. Strict visiting hours

Generally, it is a red flag if the home has visiting hours. You're family. If you want to come visit, they should allow it at almost any time. This includes meals. They should work to accommodate you and your schedule. They should make it easy to see your parents. Of course, loose rules are fine -- like not coming in the middle of the night -- but strict and limiting hours are a red flag.

5. Administrators who do not take an active role

The administrator is busy, so he or she may not be as active in day-to-day proceedings as normal staff members. That's fine. But administrators should not be completely disconnected from the residents. They need to take an active role, get to know the residents and work hard to make the living situation the best it can be.

As you work through this process with your parents, make sure you understand all of the rights and the legal options you have.

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