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It just got easier to identify nursing homes with problems

How do we take care of our parents and grandparents when they can no longer take care of themselves? It's a difficult question since the days of families living together with many generations have passed by. Now, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are more practical when elders need round-the-clock care.

These options do not come without risks, however, as many nursing homes have a reputation that is less than perfect. Allegations of abuse, neglect and improper food handling are important to consider, since many people with compromised health and ability cannot protect their own safety and health.

This month marks a new option for people seeking the right home for an aging relative. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) already allows searchers to compare nursing homes in an online portal. Now, homes cited for violations related to abuse, neglect or exploitation will be marked with a bright red icon resembling an open hand.

Many observers consider this an improvement on the long and complicated reports through which searchers had to sift during a long and complicated process. Transparency about the operations of more than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide is vital for protecting people against prospective physical, mental, emotional and financial abuse that can occur in those environments.

People struggling with the consequences of poor care in nursing homes may be able to claim financial damages in a lawsuit that may also motivate homes to improve their operations. An attorney can help determine if a lawsuit is the right course to take to correct a serious breach of trust while under care.

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