After a scheduled surgery or even an unexpected illness or injury, your doctor may order inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation to help you successfully transition back into your everyday life. Often, you will not have much time to think about what your rehab experience will entail, though, as these orders can happen fast when you’re being discharged from the hospital following your initial procedure or treatment. So, how can you prepare yourself for the possibility of a rehab stay or outpatient physical therapy? Today we’ll take a look at some of the things you need to consider to help you and your loved ones plan ahead.
Think about the season
While you obviously cannot predict when an illness or injury may strike, there is a certain seasonality to scheduled surgical procedures that can make rehab easier. Many people like to schedule necessary surgeries in the spring months, so summer vacation plans are not interrupted or during the early fall months before messy winter weather arrives. As you look ahead to surgery, keep these things in mind. Depending upon factors with your health insurance plan or your doctor’s availability, you may not have much choice in surgical scheduling, but undergoing rehabilitation while the weather is most comfortable may make healing easier for you.
Know where you’ll be treated
Did you know that rehab often takes place for seniors on site at long-term care facilities? These well-staffed organizations are specially equipped to help more mature adults recover from injuries and surgeries common to the 55+ age group. It is important to remember that just because “long-term” is in the name of these facilities does not mean that you will need to reside there permanently. While rehab services at long-term care facilities are usually on an inpatient basis (more on inpatient vs. outpatient treatment in a moment), your doctor will determine which type of rehab your particular condition or recovery plan requires and may give you some choice in deciding where you’ll go. A local long-term care facility may be an excellent option!
The type of facility where you receive rehabilitation services will partly depend upon what resources are available in your community. Here in Lancaster County, PA, we are fortunate to have many different rehab options for patients to choose between. From comprehensive services offered at many of our retirement communities, to dedicated rehabilitation hospitals, to a well-respected VA hospital in nearby Lebanon for our veterans – our home area gives patients and their families plenty of possibilities. Think about the types of facilities where you would feel most comfortable and discuss your preferences with your doctor. You will get the most benefit from your rehabilitation process if you feel at ease in the treatment facility.
Has your doctor ordered inpatient rehab? This level of treatment requires that you reside at a treatment facility for a period of time before you can transition back into your regular living situation. If you have suffered a stroke, a spinal cord injury, or have had surgery that involves the musculoskeletal system, such as hip replacements, short-term inpatient rehab is commonly prescribed. Physicians and therapists with specific experience in geriatric rehab will monitor your progress and work with you on a full-time basis during your stay so that you can regain your strength and functional independence as efficiently as possible. These facilities offer comfortable sleeping, bathing, and dining amenities in addition to state-of-the-art treatment areas.
If you’ve experienced a more minor injury or have a chronic condition like arthritis or spinal pain, or if you’ve had certain types of orthopedic surgeries, for example, you may be given the option of outpatient rehab. This type of treatment allows you to recover mainly in your own home or usual living situation while traveling to the rehab facility on a frequent basis for therapy sessions. A major determining factor in whether you’re eligible for outpatient rehab will likely be your ability to ride in the car or even drive yourself to and from your appointments. Your insurance may also be a factor in the type of treatment you qualify for.
Allow your loved ones and caregivers to help
If you were used to unlimited mobility and complete independence before you became ill or injured or required surgery, it can be challenging to allow others to assist you as you go through rehab. And you may feel like rehab is not even necessary for your healing process. It’s time-consuming, and it obviously costs someone a lot of money even if your insurance is covering all of your treatment!
The disruption to your life that treatment inevitably causes can be emotionally exhausting, frustrating, and uncomfortable, as well. But it is also vitally important. Always remember that your loved ones and rehab care team members want to help you fully recover as soon as possible. Allowing others to actively support you on your rehab journey will benefit everyone, but will be particularly helpful to you, the patient.
Will everyday life be different now?
While this is a question that has different answers depending on your personal situation, many patients facing rehab have this uncertainty in mind. Healing and recovery from surgery, injury, or illness is a process that cannot be rushed. Indeed, everyday life will be somewhat different for a time as you undergo rehabilitation treatment, but the ultimate goal of rehab is to return you to the level of independence you had before your initial hospital stay. Rehab is a unique medical discipline as it does not offer traditional “cures” to patients. It instead provides strategies and support to achieve the best possible outcomes in recovery.
Remaining open to the possibility that independent living at home may not be an option after you’ve completed rehab is also essential. Especially in cases of serious injuries or illnesses, some patients and their loved ones will feel that a permanent move to a long-term care facility is the best choice. Fortunately, there are generous benefits to retirement community living. If you experienced a long-term care facility during your rehab journey, you likely already know what some of these are.
If you’re facing the possibility of rehab in the near future and are looking into your options in the Lancaster County area, we invite you to get in contact with us here at Explore Retirement Living. We are ready to assist you in discovering what resources are available at our local retirement communities and help you plan for your future beyond rehab.