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What to Look for in a Senior Rehab Facility

Mary Beth Zabel | Nov 30, 2022

Senior rehab facilities are designed to help and assist elderly individuals recovering from injuries, illnesses, or medical procedures. They are great resources that help ensure a well-rounded recovery by offering services like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. 

When it comes to finding the best rehab center for you, know that you have options. Depending on the severity of your injury, procedure, or condition, understanding what to look for in a senior rehabilitation center will help you find the best fit. Keep reading to learn the different types of rehab facilities, the qualities to look for, and the benefits they provide to find the best place for a quick and convenient recovery. But remember, always be sure to consult your physician to ensure you receive the best option for your needs. 

Senior working with physical therapist

Inpatient vs. outpatient rehabilitation and therapy services

Inpatient and outpatient care are standard terms in the healthcare industry, but when it comes to rehabilitation and therapy, there are a few specifics to know. Let’s break down each to get a sound understanding of when to choose one or the other.

Inpatient senior rehab centers

Inpatient rehabilitation is typically reserved for long-term or complex recovery following a serious injury, illness, or medical procedure. Like other inpatient centers, inpatient rehab facilities involve patients staying on-location to receive consistent, around-the-clock care and continuous monitoring. Inpatient rehab also offers treatment programs from licensed, professional medical staff to ensure top-quality care in a professional environment. 

Outpatient senior rehab centers

Outpatient rehabilitation is reserved for less intensive recovery following minor injuries or medical procedures. Outpatient centers are utilized by individuals who need assistance returning to their normal mobility and quality of life but can live independently at home. You’ll still have access to licensed and professional medical staff when receiving outpatient rehab. Still, the timeline for your recovery will depend on how much work you put in while at home. 

Short-term vs. long-term rehabilitation 

Many senior rehab facilities offer short and long-term rehabilitation services. Depending on the degree of your condition, you may require one or the other. Let’s compare the two to evaluate which is best for you.

Short-term rehabilitation

Short-term rehab programs offer a supportive environment for seniors who suffer from an injury, illness, or medical procedure. Short-term options typically occur in an inpatient rehab center immediately following an injury or procedure but can be conducted in an outpatient center after significant progress toward recovery has occurred. Short-term rehabilitation is best when the severity of the ailment is minor, and the timeline for recovery is shorter, only lasting a few days or a month at most. 

Long-term rehabilitation 

Like short-term rehab programs, long-term rehabilitation offers a supportive environment for individuals suffering from an injury, illness, or medical procedure. However, long-term rehabilitation occurs in an inpatient rehab center, nursing facility, or senior living facility. Long-term rehab involves more extensive and well-rounded recovery plans, including physical, mental, occupational, and speech therapy. The duration of one’s time in long-term rehabilitation depends entirely on the severity of their condition. 

Rehab vs. nursing home

Rehabilitation centers and nursing homes often get grouped together, but they're separate entities that share many of the same services (but support different populations).

In a rehab facility, individuals will typically stay for a limited period while recovering from an illness, injury, or medical procedure. In all cases, people attend rehab to recover from physical, mental, occupational, or speech ailments, and they benefit from licensed medical professionals and their expertise. 

On the other hand, a nursing home can offer similar recovery and rehabilitation services, but they aren't limited to just that. A nursing home or senior living community provides additional benefits beyond the scope of recovery, and residents typically reside and live there full time. 

Here are just some examples of programs you'll find in a senior living community that aren’t typically part of a standard rehab center:

Nursing homes focus on providing care for their residents, but many have separate rehabilitation facilities for patients who require recovery care. In some cases, people will transition from a hospital to a nursing home to receive rehab services and additional benefits that improve their quality of life while they recover. 

What is skilled nursing?

Skilled nursing refers to an individual's need for care, rehabilitation, or treatment that only licensed nurses can perform. A skilled nursing facility, or SNF, is a nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid that provides short-term and long-term rehabilitation care.

SNFs are regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). To be recognized as a certified SNF, a facility must meet criteria set by the CMS and undergo periodic inspections to ensure quality standards. 

Unlike a stay in an assisted living community, an individual’s stay at a short-term SNF may be covered by Medicare if the following criteria are met:

  • The individual is eligible for Medicare or Medicaid coverage through a qualifying in-patient stay at a hospital. 
  • Upon discharge from the hospital, the individual is prescribed a short-term rehab stay by their doctor. 

What are the qualities of a reputable senior rehabilitation center?

Senior eating

Now that you know the different types of senior rehab centers, let’s look at the qualities that every reputable facility should have. With so many options are available, it’s essential to consider your personal needs and well-being to determine the best fit. Doing so will ensure you receive the best care available to get back on your feet. 

Care and staff

It’s crucial to seek an environment that provides the best care and staff. When it comes to quality of care, look for a rehab center that emphasizes compassion, respect, support, and empathy. You’ll also want to ensure they have ample staff to care for you and other residents properly. 

Likewise, look for similarities between a rehab facility’s mission and your values in life. Are you religious? Perhaps a faith-based organization would be right for you. There are many ways to find the proper rehab facility for you, but to get you off on the right path, consider the steps below when starting your search.

  1. Ask your doctor or physician for a recommendation.
  2. Do your research — look at online reviews, ask your peers, and consult with family members to see if they have experience with a facility.
  3. If time and health allow for it, take a virtual or in-person tour before committing. 

Location

Location is one of the most critical factors in choosing a rehabilitation facility. If you can’t travel on your own, finding transportation to and from rehab can be an unnecessary hassle, so having a center close to your hospital or home is essential to removing the burdens of recovery. Similarly, a facility near your loved ones will allow them to visit and provide additional care and support for your well-being. 

Comfortableness/amenities

The difference between a good recovery and a great one comes from how comfortable you feel throughout the process. After an injury, illness, or procedure, your only concern should be recovery, and a senior rehab facility that feels like home can make all the difference. 

Here is a list of services and amenities that you should look for when considering a recovery facility:

  • Individualized rehab catered to your needs
  • Warm, homely environment with modern furnishings
  • Happy residents who can inspire and provide companionship
  • Quality meal programs created by nutritionists and chefs 
  • Wheelchair, walker, or cane accessibility 
  • Personal, private rooms with bathrooms and other household amenities

Activities

Keeping the mind and body active is key to a healthy and well-rounded recovery. A senior living and rehab facility that offers yoga, music, spiritual, physical fitness, and other programs allows you to improve your quality of life aside from returning to your regular routine. Doing so can even help speed up the timeline for your recovery.

Nutrition

The meal plans in a senior rehab or living facility should balance nutrition and flavor to provide the fuel you need to regain strength. Similarly, they should be able to accommodate dietary restrictions if you need to avoid certain foods for medical or personal reasons. If you can, inquire about menu options, meal period times, and food preparation options while on tour or speaking with a team member. Ask other residents about their opinion on the food, and take note of what they like and dislike. 

Let's get you back to yourself

Method Rehab, a senior rehab division of Walker Methodist, is re-imagining the rehab experience for a new generation of older adults. Method Rehab was born through a passion for providing comprehensive, compassionate care for older adults no matter where they live or their financial situation. 

Our skilled therapists have experience helping people with:

  • Mobility, strengthening, and balance
  • Pain management
  • Daily activities including hygiene and grooming
  • Speech, swallowing, and voice quality therapy

Our goal is never to say, “No, you can’t,” but always, “How can we help you get there?” We make quality recovery care accessible to everyone, which is why you don’t need to live in a Walker Methodist community to receive care at Method Rehab. Our doctors of physical therapy want to help our patients sustain their independence, thrive in their environment, and have a voice in their wellness journey. If you’re ready to get back to the life you’ve always known, we’re here to help. 

Learn About Method Rehab

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