Helpful Healing: Senior Rehab and the Healing Process

Senior rehab and the healing process

Seniors face many challenges as they age and may need more intensive rehabilitation care, especially after suffering injuries from a fall, a stroke or a cardiovascular event. The length of time spent in a senior rehab program can greatly improve the senior's health, and allow him or her to maintain  independence and get back to the normal routine much quicker following an event.

A facility designed especially for senior rehab, or even a nursing home equipped with rehabilitation services, can spend more time working with the patient as opposed to home care alone. This is important because the more time spent working on rehabilitation, the quicker the patient improves. Senior rehab covers many physical ailments such as:

  • Orthopedic rehabilitation and multiple trauma care
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Amputee rehabilitation
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Wound management
  • Cardiovascular rehabilitation
  • Head injury and spinal cord injury

Balance assessment and fall prevention

Each year one out of every three senior citizens 65 and older suffers a fall, and 30% require medical treatment. Therefore, many senior rehab services are providing balance assessment and therapy designed to improve the patient's balance. The long-term cost, as well as the pain and suffering of those at risk, is greatly decreased.

Stroke rehabilitation

Rehabilitation should begin as soon as a stroke patient is stable, often within 24 to 48 hours after a stroke. Inpatient programs often involve three hours of active therapy a day, five or six days a week. Outpatients spend several hours, usually at least three days a week, so inpatient programs are always more time intensive, which speeds up the healing process.

"You may need six weeks, six months or longer to learn how to manage your [heart] condition and develop healthier habits. Many programs last only three months, but some continue for years." – American Heart Association

Cardiovascular rehabilitation

Cardiovascular rehabilitation is a coordinated plan of therapy designed to improve the cardiac patient's chances of recovery. Most of these senior rehab programs improve the patient's energy level, allowing the heart and body to get stronger. As for recovery time, the American Heart Association says, “You may need six weeks, six months or longer to learn how to manage your condition and develop healthier habits. Many programs last only three months, but some continue for years.”

Other senior rehab therapies

Occupational therapy in senior rehab isn’t about returning to work. It is designed with the specific purpose to aid the patient in performing daily activities like personal hygiene, motor control and eating. Speech therapy, on the other hand, helps those who have suffered a stroke or the effects of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Physical therapy, one of the most popular, offers the senior the ability to regain strength, flexibility and coordination following a stroke or injury.

Regardless of the need, senior rehab programs are designed to allow people to get back on their feet again as quickly as possible. The more time each day spent on rehabilitation, the quicker the patient will recover; and, that is the goal of any good senior rehab program.

- Written By

Julie Davis

Julie Davis is a food, health and wellness writer working within all print and digital formats. She has written over 50 books for readers of all ages, from best-selling women's interest titles in the areas of beauty, fitness and lifestyle to children's picture books. She currently writes for WebMD, the Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Adviser, the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, Bottom Line Personal and Bottom Line Health. Her past work includes features for Walgreens “The Thread” blog, Everyday Health, Livestrong, Healthgrades and HealthDay where she also conceptualized and scripted a 1,000-video lifestyle series.