Rehab to home

Guest Column
Leann Herman
Monticello Nursing & Rehab Campus

     A common misperception about nursing homes is that they are only appropriate for individuals needing long-term care. One often assumes that individuals reside in a care center throughout their final years. This is not always the case, and there are many instances when individuals enter a nursing home for a short period of time, receive rehabilitative services they need to regain their strength and independence, and return home safely.

     Following a hospital stay resulting from an illness, injury, or surgery many individuals may require rehabilitative services including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to return to their previous level of functioning. Hospitals as well as skilled nursing facilities offer these rehabilitative services following an acute care hospital stay. While some people may decide to receive therapy in the hospital, many patients and their families prefer to complete therapy in their local nursing home in order to be closer to loved ones and others in their community who provide social and emotional support.

     The goal of physical therapy is to increase functioning, reduce pain, and increase mobility for better strength and balance. After a hospital stay, an individual may be weak and more prone to falling. Physical therapy increases strength and endurance, and can also provide seniors with a new sense of confidence and motivation. When an individual does not participate in therapy and is inactive, joints get stiff and this decreased mobility leads to even more pain. This is why it is so important for seniors to remain active.

     Occupational therapy services focus on improving daily living skills such as cooking, feeding oneself, dressing and grooming which leads to increased independence and a better quality of life for individuals. Occupational therapy works with the individual on challenges they face daily in their home environment and help with home modifications such as a bath bench or grab bars. Additionally, occupational therapists helps identify safety risks in the home environment and help seniors solve these issues to avoid falls, increase safety awareness, and decrease hospital re-admissions.

     Speech therapists may also work with seniors following a hospital stay, particularly when recovering from a stroke or experiencing dementia. A Speech-Language Pathologist is trained to focus on speech, language, voice, cognition and swallowing issues. Speech therapists may focus on areas concerning memory, word-find/recall and orientation to help individuals increase their ability to communicate more effectively. Physical, occupational and speech therapy are very important to individuals to regain their strength and independence so they may return to their homes safely and enjoy an improved quality of life. For more information about any of these rehabilitative services, contact your local skilled nursing facility or your local agency on aging.


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