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Decisions related to the care of an aging parent or loved one are deeply personal and often difficult. Perhaps the most important of these decisions is selecting a nursing home that will be able to provide the care and attention your friend or relative needs at that stage of their life. Unfortunately, not all long-term care facilities for the elderly are equal. Some are downright horrible. The worst part when making these decisions is that the ugly side of a care facility may not be apparent until it’s too late — until your loved one is already moved in.

Of course, nursing homes and care facilities have specific standards they must meet and there is a lot of information you can find out if you know what to look for ahead of time. But it’s just as important to monitor treatment after move-in. And if something suspicious is going on, the most important thing you can do is to remove the patient from the facility.

This is important for two reasons. First, it is the best thing you can do to save your loved one from abuse or substandard treatment. Second, it is crucial to preserving and strengthening your legal arguments in the event a lawsuit arises. In other words, if you are going to allege that a facility has been chronically negligent in the care of your family member, then it really hurts your case if you allowed your family member to continue living there.

The bottom line is that even after choosing a nursing home for your loved one, you need to continue to watch out for their well-being. Be tuned in to signs of elder abuse. Also be aware of how the nursing home operates and what the behavior of the staff is. Last, take action to protect not only the health and safety of your family member, but also their legal rights.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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