After being discharged from the hospital due to an illness, injury, or surgery such as a hip or knee replacement, many older adults need to stay in a short-term inpatient rehabilitation center to continue their therapy treatment. Spending time in a short-term senior rehab facility allows older adults to receive round-the-clock care, treatment, and support so they can return home safely.
However, when the short-term rehab stay comes to an end, the prospect of transitioning back home can be overwhelming for rehab patients—and their family members. If your parent is discharged from a senior rehab center, it’s natural to feel uncertainty about the changes ahead and how you will adjust to them. But with some planning, preparation, and patience, you can help your parent or loved one successfully transition home and continue their recovery journey with less stress.
Here are some tips to remember when helping a loved one transition home from short-term senior rehab:
Planning for the transition home from short-term rehab should start well in advance of your parent’s intended discharge date. Luckily, you’re not alone in this process. The professional staff at the senior rehab center will help you understand your parent’s needs and what to expect. For example, at the Bethany Rehabilitation Center (BRC), discharge planning begins from the moment of admission. Right from the start, our social services team will meet with your family to discuss your parent’s needs and goals. By the time your parent is ready to return home, our team will ensure all your questions are answered, so the transition is smooth and seamless.
Think about home modifications
Whether your parent is returning to their home or moving into another relative’s home after their short-term rehab stay, it’s important that their living environment is as safe and accessible as possible. Pay attention to safety concerns such as proper lighting, loose area rugs, carpeted stairs, furniture arrangement, and handrail stability. Is the shower and bathroom area accessible? The addition of grab bars or a shower chair can make a big difference for your parent’s safety. Before your parent is discharged, ask the senior rehab staff about any specific recommendations they have to make their home environment more safe and comfortable.
Set recovery goals
During their short-term rehab stay, your parent may receive therapy treatment from physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Before discharge, these therapy experts set realistic short and long-term recovery goals for your parent and outline a daily routine of exercises they should continue, whether on their own or with assistance. Once they return home, help your parent stay focused on their goals. A little motivation and encouragement can go a long way in preventing the risk of returning to the hospital again.
Line up support systems
Helping a parent or loved one recover from a major illness or injury isn’t easy, but luckily, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s reaching out to other family members or taking advantage of local community resources and at-home health providers. The senior rehab facility staff will connect you to trusted resources to help your parent recover safely and happily at home.
Rehabilitation is difficult at any age, but it may be particularly stressful for older adults. Encouraging your parent or loved one to maintain a positive attitude before, during, and after their short-term rehab stay may help to speed up the recovery process and prevent return visits to the hospital or rehab center. Even short visits or phone calls can lift your parent’s spirits and increase their confidence in their own recovery.
Finally, if you are the primary caregiver for your parent, one of the best things you can do is to take care of yourself. Prioritize your own health and wellness, and take a break if you need to. Remember, it’s okay to have extra assistance when caring for your loved one, especially if they are facing significant mobility loss and other lifestyle changes. From meal delivery to transportation services to at-home health providers, there are many resources that can make the recovery process easier for you and your loved one.