5 Things You Can Do to Support Your Senior Loved One’s Rehab Stay

When you have a loved one recovering from injury or illness who’s facing a stay in a short-term rehab facility, you want to help, but may not know the best ways to provide support. Here are a few thoughtful and helpful things you can do to get through this recovery period together.

1. Pack the things they need to feel like themselves.

When seniors have been sick or injured or have had a surgery and need to recover in a strange environment like a rehab facility, it’s beneficial for them to have some of the creature comforts from home around. Aside from making sure you’ve got the basics packed, make sure they have the following in order to feel like themselves:

  • Familiar brands of soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and toothpaste
  • Mom’s make-up, if she wears it
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes or slippers that don’t inhibit movement
  • At least one nice outfit if you think your loved one will enjoy getting a little dressed up for guests or dinner
  • Favorite books, magazines, movies, hobby supplies and photos to help pass the time and make the space feel more like home

2. Take care of their emotional well-being.

Seniors who are undergoing rehabilitative care don’t feel well and would rather be at home and back to their regular activities enjoying their freedom. It isn’t unlikely that they’ll have more down days than usual. Keeping their spirits up is important, but it won’t happen if you’re constantly cheerful and positive about their situation or telling them you understand how they feel if you really don’t.

Instead, offer them validation. You can acknowledge that what they’re going through is difficult and show them empathy because their feelings about their circumstances - whether they are angry, sad or bitter - are OK. You may not need to say anything at all at times because your presence may be just what’s needed. Watch TV together, work on a shared favorite hobby like a puzzle or knitting project or give them the gift of chit-chat as you discuss the day’s events and goings-on.

3. Take care of finances of the rehab stay and of the home.

Your loved one should be focused on getting better and that doesn’t happen if he or she is concerned about how to pay for rehab or whether the water bill is being taken care of.

Speak to the rehab facility’s billing department yourself or with your loved one to make arrangements for payment. Find out beforehand about recurring bills, mortgage payments and other expenses at home and have those paid in his or her absence. In addition, if your loved one is receiving social security or other income payments, be sure you know how those are being deposited. Check the mail regularly and cancel or hold magazine or newspaper subscriptions.

4. Plan for at-home care to continue the healing and recovery process.

Speak to your loved one’s healthcare team about what he or she will need to have in place at home for continued recovery and healing. Will professional home health care be needed? Are there any dietary restrictions that need to be followed? What kind of specialized equipment or assistive devices will be needed? When is his or her next doctor’s appointment?

It’s also a good idea to schedule some time off from work or dedicate some time in your schedule to visit with your loved one, do any chores or drive them somewhere if they want to get out of the house.

5. Make sure home is safe.

Whether your senior loved one is coming to stay with you or returning to his or her home, you’ll want to make sure the space is appropriately prepared for safety. At Marquette, we make this easy. A member of our experienced rehab staff will actually come to the place where your loved one will be staying, review the environment with you, and make some helpful suggestions. Here are some things you may want to consider right now:

  • The bathroom - have grab bars installed and place non-slip mats on the floor and in the tub/shower; make sure the lighting is bright; install a motion sensor switch
  • The kitchen - reorganize so items that are regularly used are easily accessible on the counters and in the fridge and pantry; declutter and keep only the essentials out so there are fewer things to navigate around
  • Stairs - move a bed to the first floor; have someone come in to do laundry if the washer and dryer are on another level; install ramps if needed

Additionally, make sure that alert devices, cell phones and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are all working properly with fresh batteries.

Supporting your parent or loved one in these ways will not only give you a way to care for them when you feel like you don’t know how to help but also will allow the healing process to take place without worry. At Marquette, we know this is the quickest path back home - contact us for more information about our rehabilitation therapies offered in our Health Center.