Choosing a Physical Rehabilitation Facility as a Senior

Each year, approximately one-third of all people 65 years of age and older experience a fall.

Such falls could be debilitating, leading to injuries like fractured hips, that require rehabilitation. As a senior gets older, the likelihood of suffering injuries from a fall increases, with more than half of seniors 80 years of age and older falling each year. Furthermore, seniors should always undergo some form of physical rehabilitation after a fall, surgery, stroke, heart attack or hospital stay.

Knowing what to look for before you start a search for a physical rehabilitation facility, either for yourself as a senior or for a senior you love, can make the process go smoothly. Going into the right facility for your needs can give you the peace of mind that lets you recover as fully as possible. Fortunately, choosing the right physical rehab facility as a senior is not too difficult, once you understand the options available. Use the following information to make an informed choice about who you trust your rehabilitation needs to.

The Basics

In general, almost any physical rehabilitation facility will have nurses on staff 24 hours per day to meet patients’ needs. From there, much of the offerings differ, from the types of therapies and nursing services offered to the quality of guest conditions and lifestyle activities. Most important of all is to visit any facility you are considering for yourself or a senior you love. There is no better way to explore a facility’s suitability for your needs than walking around its spaces and speaking with its personnel and residents.

Short Term or Long-Term Care

To locate the right physical rehabilitation facility for you or a senior you love, you must first know whether you are searching for long-term or short-term care. Uncomplicated surgeries and minor health concerns may only necessitate a short stay of up to a few weeks or as little as a couple of days. For more serious medical concerns and surgeries, the required stay might be more like several months. You may find long and short-term care at some physical rehabilitation facilities, but not all.

Guest Lifestyle

While staying at a physical rehabilitation center, there are certain lifestyle issues to note. Among the most basic concerns for all guests of such facilities is the quality of the living conditions, including cleanliness, privacy and comfort. Some of the questions you might want to ask or find the answers to include:

  • Are both shared and private rooms available, depending on the senior’s preference?
  • What types of meals are offered, and are there vegetarian options or accommodations for special needs diets?
  • What types of community activities, common areas, social events and entertainment offerings are there?
  • Does your facility offer religious services on a regular basis? Are there local churches that are involved with residents?

Obviously, the longer your stay in the rehab facility will be, the more these guest lifestyle issues might matter. If you will be staying longer than a few weeks, then ask if personal mementos might be brought into the room. Depending on the type of treatment you are receiving you may want to ask if you can wear street clothes or personal pajamas instead of facility issued wardrobe.

Staffing and Services

When you call or visit a physical rehabilitation facility you are considering for a senior, there are several questions you can ask to help determine a facility’s suitability. Find out whether specialized staff are available for particular individual needs, such as speech therapy, physical therapy or occupational therapy. Find out the qualifications of the staff who will be serving you. Ideally, they will be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities or The Joint Commission. Find out the percent of patients sent home after they receive care. Determine whether the facility offers a continuum of care, such as outpatient therapy, in-home physical rehabilitation or transfer to a long-term in-patient care facility.

Ask whether the staff devises a personalized care plan for each admitted patient. Ascertain what you can expect during the stay and recovery process. How much time will be spent in therapy and rehabilitation, and how much will be left for relaxation and personal time? Examine all the rooms including common areas, guest rooms, the dining area, community spaces and therapeutic facilities. Lastly, see if you can take a look at the results of a facility’s Satisfaction Surveys. If you can speak in person with any of the facility’s current or past residents for direct feedback, it is all the better.

Family Support

It may also be useful in your search to find out if a particular facility provides conferences to keep family members informed of their senior loved one’s progress. Make sure to get answers to questions such as:

  • Are visiting convenient enough for family members’ schedules?
  • When family members do come for a visit, how long are they allowed to stay?
  • Can seniors keep framed photographs of loved ones in their rooms during stays?
  • What are the policies regarding phone calls?
  • Are there phones in the patient rooms?
  • If so, what are the costs for placing or receiving calls and are there limitations for phone calls in or out?

Return to an Independent Lifestyle

The goal of all physical rehabilitation facilities, of course, is to return you or your beloved senior home and support you in resuming your independent lifestyle. Sometimes this may involve a transition, and it is helpful to know the facility you choose will provide such transitional support. Transitional support may include a staff member coming to your home to inspect it for your suitability, offer suggestions to your family on how to better support you and make periodic visits to make sure all is going well. You will also be taught how to continue your physical therapy exercises at home. You may even want a facility that would provide you with an in-home aide to help you with your exercises and post-care needs as they arise.

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