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What to Know About Transitioning to Assisted Living From Short-Term Rehab
Chelsea Sayegh

By: Chelsea Sayegh on September 14th, 2018

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What to Know About Transitioning to Assisted Living From Short-Term Rehab

Aging & Caregiving

After a parent or loved one has a bad fall or faced a serious illness, they may be required to go through short-term rehabilitation. As part of the recovery process, it is common to consider a  move to a more supportive living environment after they leave the rehab facility. This is the best option to keep their physical recovery on track. Transitioning to assisted living is a wise choice, both from a safety and a care perspective.

As your parent’s time in a short-term rehab is coming to a close, you can start taking steps now to ensure transitioning to assisted living is an easy process.

Focus on Care Planning

During your loved one’s stay in a short-term rehab facility, it may become apparent that moving back home isn’t the best option when it comes to keeping active, receiving the right care, and staying injury-free. Often, this comes up in their “care plan meeting” or as their rehabilitation progresses.

A “care plan meeting” is a discussion between your parent, their doctors, rehab staff members, and family members about ongoing care needs and exercise and treatment goals that should be accomplished. If it seems likely in this meeting that after a stay in rehab, transitioning to assisted living is the best option, you should start making plans right away.

Setbacks could also develop throughout rehab treatment that could put your parent off course for a full recovery. If that's the case, an assisted living community could be a good option, too. In an assisted living community, you benefit from a continuation of your loved one’s care, which can be hard to focus on when they’re back home.

Has your loved one given up on physical fitness?

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Prepare for the Emotional Transition

Any big transition in life can be a challenge. Transitioning to assisted living is no exception.

Seniors struggle with feelings that they’ve lost their freedom. They’re physically limited by injury or illness. They might not be able to drive anymore and have a hard time staying active. They no longer live in their own home. After spending their whole life making decisions and being independent, it’s easy to be frustrated with this new season. And, if they have never stayed in an assisted living community before, it can all feel unfamiliar and a little unnerving.

Fortunately, transitioning to assisted living doesn’t mean your parent loses their freedom. In fact, assisted living communities can actually promote independence, as many enable residents to participate in activities and outings they wouldn't have been able to do on their own. There are still plenty of ways to be active and enjoy life in a community. For many people, it just takes developing a routine to feel comfortable in their new environment. Routines are beneficial for seniors both from a care and emotional standpoint. With routine exercise and therapy offered in an assisted living community, seniors can improve their mobility and strength after a stay in a rehab facility. Having a scheduled day also helps seniors adjust to their new home, getting to know other residents over community meals, activities, and more.

Once seniors start to make friends after transitioning to assisted living, the whole process becomes much easier. Many seniors worry they’ll be lonely living in a new place, but when they’re surrounded by other residents, they always have someone to talk to or something to do. If your parent wants some alone time, don’t worry. They can always return to their own apartment to watch TV or read independently. Plus, your family can come visit, too.

In addition to setting up a routine and meeting new people, bringing some of your parent’s personal belongings to the assisted living community can make an emotional transition a little easier. When their apartment is decorated with possessions and items they love, seniors will feel like they’re building a new (but familiar) home for themselves.

Visit Local Communities

After a stay in a short-term rehab facility, transitioning to assisted living can be an exciting change. To help your parent feel sure that they are choosing the right community for their health needs and their lifestyle, you should make a few special trips to communities in your area. This will allow your parent to see communities in person, ask questions, and choose the environment that’s best for them.

If your parent is not able to visit these communities due to the injuries or illness that landed them in the rehab facility, you or a family member can always go to see the community for them and report back. Make sure to take as many pictures as possible, so even if your parent can’t see the community in person, they can still get a better idea about what life there would be like.

As you evaluate assisted living options, be sure to choose one that offers plenty of recreation options to keep your parent active and healthy. In fact, an inactive lifestyle might be why your parent ended up in the rehab center in the first place.

Each community is different, with different layouts, activities, and staff members. So, it important you ask the right questions while you're viewing the different options. First, ask to see the apartments where the residents live. You also want to see the common areas, too. As your parent will be eating three meals a day there, ask if you can try the food. You also need to inquire about how the community meets dietary needs if you parent has any.

It’s also really important that you talk to staff members about your parent’s health needs, specifically the injury or illness that caused them to go to the short-term rehab facility. One of the greatest benefits of moving into an assisted living community is having 24/7 access to care and support. So, if your parent needs help with simple tasks like getting dressed, you can count on healthcare professionals at the community to help.

Seeing the assisted living community in person will dispel a lot of fears you and your parent may have about transitioning to assisted living from a short-term rehab facility. You’ll know what to expect, what your parent’s living environment will be like, and how they will interact with staff members and other residents. You'll also want to consider if the communities you're looking at are for-profit or nonprofit. This can make a huge difference when it comes to the care and service your loved one is receiving. 

Ultimately, moving into an assisted living community after a stay in rehab is the best way for your parent to continue to improve their health. This will be an emotional time for both your parent and you, so carefully consider all your options before making a decision. When your loved one picks the perfect assisted living community, this chapter of their life can a happy and healthy one.

Get more tips on how to help a senior loved one stay healthy. Download this guide on Exercise for Seniors.

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About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.