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What is Geriatric Rehabilitation?





What is Geriatric Rehabilitation?

What is Geriatric Rehabilitation?

Wednesday April 21, 2021

After an illness or a hospital stay, seniors may need a little extra support before they return to their homes. A rehabilitation facility specializing in geriatric rehabilitation can help make this transition as safe as possible.

What is geriatric rehabilitation?

Geriatric rehabilitation is a service that focuses on the health and rehabilitation needs of seniors. These rehab programs have therapists and nurses who have specific knowledge about how best to provide care to elderly patients.  

Program goals focus on returning patients back to the physical and mental functioning they were at before the health episode occurred. Some programs may offer outpatient therapy or, like Abramson Senior Care’s Birnhak Transitional Care program, provide short-term in-patient care.

Geriatric rehabilitation usually offers physical, occupational, and speech therapies according to the patient’s needs. Physical therapy is the therapy that most people think of when they think of rehabilitation. It uses exercises and various equipment to help patients regain mobility after an accident, surgery or long illness where they have spent a lengthy time in bed. Occupational therapy uses activities of daily living – such as dressing, performing household chores, and favorite hobbies – to recover or maintain physical ability. This type of therapy helps regain skills such as getting in and out of a car, climbing stairs and maneuvering around the kitchen. And finally, speech therapy is designed to help a patient regain language and cognitive skills, as well as overcome issues with eating and swallowing that may occur after a health episode. Speech therapy is commonly needed after a stroke or brain injury.   

What medical needs does geriatric rehabilitation specialize in?

Geriatric rehabilitation programs specialize in the unique health needs that seniors commonly face. These include:

  • Post-surgery care
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Pulmonary disease and respiratory care
  • Diabetes management
  • Wound care
  • Neurological disease
  • Orthopedic care

What are the benefits of geriatric rehabilitation?

If you are a senior or have an older loved one who needs rehabilitation, a facility that specializes in senior care can have many benefits. Therapists and the medical team are specially trained in interventions and techniques that are appropriate for older adults. They are able to adjust the pace of therapy so that it is proper for an older patient, potentially reducing any injuries while helping to decrease recovery time.

A successful rehabilitation stay can help prevent future injury and hospitalization, while helping seniors maintain independence and avoid placement in long-term care.    

What should you look for in a geriatric rehabilitation facility?

After a hospital stay, a hospital social worker will most likely provide a list of local rehabilitation facilities and ask that the patient or responsible party choose which they prefer to use. If you have the time to do some research before discharge, it may be worth it to tour the facilities you are most interested in. Pay attention to the overall cleanliness of the facility, if there are activities offered, and what mealtimes look like. 

You may also want to try to schedule some time to talk with the facility’s administrator or director of nursing. They can answer questions or address any concerns you may have. Consider asking questions such as:

  • Does the facility offer personalized care plans?
  • Do they have the appropriate staffing levels to adequately provide care for you or your loved one’s condition?
  • How often do they see patients with you or your loved one’s particular needs?
  • How often is therapy provided and how are interventions implemented, if needed?
  • How is care coordinated with the patient’s other physicians?
  • What type of follow-up care do they provide?

Taking the time to determine if the rehabilitation program can best fit your needs can ensure that recovery goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

After rehabilitation

When rehabilitation is complete, some patients may be ready to go home without any further support while others may need additional therapy or help at home.

A geriatric rehabilitation program may be able to provide at-home services or may refer out to another company. Find out which companies your chosen rehab works with. It may be beneficial to choose a rehab program that also has a home care affiliate. Care is often better coordinated, making the transition home as easy as possible and relieving family caregivers of the burden of making sure information is shared between providers.

Recovering from an illness or injury can be a journey. However, with the right geriatric rehabilitation program, seniors can look forward to regaining function and maintaining their independence.

If you are interested in learning more about Birnhak Transitional Care at Lankenau Medical Center, call 215.371.3400.