Nursing home care may become a necessity if your parents are no longer able to care for themselves independently. This is especially true when you work full time or live a distance from your elderly loved ones and are unable to provide the day-to-day care they require.

Statistics on nursing home abuse and neglect are sobering, with the National Center on Elder Abuse reporting more than 14,000 complaints involving exploitation, abuse or gross neglect by nursing home staff in 2014. Take steps to find a safe nursing home environment that will nurture your senior family member’s well-being.

Seek referrals

 Talk to friends, colleagues and others in your network about your search. Follow up on facilities that get a strong recommendation from a person you trust, especially if he or she has a family member who lives there.

Use available resources

 Conduct a background check on the facilities on your short list. Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool online is a good place to start your search. You can also check online ratings on sites like Google to read reviews and testimonials from others whose family members live at the facility.

Visit in person

 Touring the facility gives you the chance to look for red flags. These can include administrators who are unavailable or seem harried, limited choices for meals or amenities, location in an unsafe neighborhood, and lack of a strong care philosophy and vision for important topics such as end of life.

 Listen to tone

 When you visit the facility, pay attention to how nurses and other staff members address those who are in their care. Staff should talk directly to patients and call them by name. Listen for harsh tones or other signs of poor treatment. Although some noise is normal in an institutional setting, the overall atmosphere should be peaceful.

Pay attention to your instincts when looking at possible nursing homes for your parents. You and your loved one should feel comfortable and have trust in the staff and caregivers before making a final decision.