November 21, 2019

After experiencing an illness, injury, or surgery, we all need time to recover. Often, after an older adult spends time in the hospital, their doctor will recommend they stay in a short-term rehabilitation center before returning home. These short-term senior rehab centers are designed to help older adults regain strength and confidence in a supportive, healing environment.

If your aging parent isn’t quite ready to return home after a hospital stay, a short-term senior rehab center can help them begin the road to recovery. As a caregiver, it’s important to understand that the process of recovery is not always easy, especially for older adults. It takes a great deal of hard work and dedication to stick with a consistent therapy routine, and it’s natural for rehab patients to lose some motivation along the way. Fortunately, there are things you can do to support your parent in their recovery journey.

If your parent is preparing to enter short-term rehab, here are a few tips to help them—and you—stay motivated and positive.

Set goals together

Goal-setting is how we set direction in our lives, and short-term senior rehab should be no different. A clear plan for recovery, with milestones along the way, will keep your parent focused on what they want to achieve and help set them up for success.

In a short-term rehab facility, an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and therapists will work together to come up with a treatment plan for your parent that is realistic and achievable. They may also encourage your parent to set personal goals that relate to the interests or activities they want to get back to enjoying, such as golfing or gardening.

Be grateful for small wins

Sometimes, recovering from a surgery or illness takes longer than you or your parent had hoped, which can be discouraging. Remember, recovery is different for everyone. You and your parent should expect to see incremental improvements along the way rather than huge leaps forward. While small, these “wins” are still a signal that things are moving in the right direction.

At the beginning of a short-term senior rehab stay, your parent’s progress might be minor, like being able to get out of bed without help. Let the rehab care team know to keep you informed about every positive step. This way, no matter how small or how significant, you and your parent can celebrate each of these wins together.

Be mindful of their mental wellbeing

Keep in mind, an injury, illness, or surgery can impact our mental health just as much as our physical health. It’s not unusual for those in the recovery process to feel frustrated or even depressed, and that can naturally lead to a lack of motivation.

As a caregiver, there are several ways you can encourage your parent to keep an optimistic outlook —

●      Focus on what they can control. When an older adult is in short-term senior rehab care, it may feel like they have lost control over their life. But the opposite is true! Help them see that by doing their physical therapy exercises, eating well, getting plenty of rest, and listening to their care team, they are taking control of their situation and working toward a brighter future.

●      Emphasize the positives. When you visit your parent in short-term rehab, bring an activity you know they enjoy or something you can do together. Maybe it’s putting together a puzzle, listening to music, or video chatting with grandchildren. These small, thoughtful gestures will show your parent how much you care and provide some much-needed encouragement.

●      Remind your parent that their short-term rehab stay is temporary. The more they approach their therapy exercises with enthusiasm, the more likely they will be able to return home in the desired time period.

Remember that recovery is a team effort

As much as you want to help your parent heal and get better, there’s a limit to how much you can do on your own. You can explain how a positive attitude toward rehab will help produce a better outcome and encourage them to stay motivated. Ultimately, though, rehabilitation is a personal matter, and every patient has different needs and challenges to overcome throughout the process.

That’s why at the Bethany Rehabilitation Center (BRC), our staff creates a plan that is individually tailored. Those staying in our short-term senior rehab center always get personalized attention from our team of physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, and dieticians so they can achieve the best possible outcome. Each individual’s plan of care is coordinated by a nursing case manager, who works with families to manage and communicate all details of recovery, including a planned return home.

When your parent or loved one is working toward recovery after an illness, injury, or surgery, the BRC is here to help them focus on all aspects of the healing process—mind, body, and spirit. Contact us to learn more about our state-of-the-art senior rehabilitation center.