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Short-term Rehab—Tips for a Successful Return Home

Short-term Rehab—Tips for a Successful Return Home

After a stay in short-term rehab, adjusting to life at home and beginning the journey back to health and independence can be intimidating. Making a full recovery after a surgery, illness, or injury is often a long and challenging process, requiring adjustments, assistance, and of course, plenty of patience. To make your transition as smooth, stress-free, and painless as possible, it’s important to properly plan, set goals, and take advantage of all available resources for a full and successful recovery.

Prepare Your Home

Making sure your living space is properly prepared for your return home is the first and most important step in a successful transition and recovery. If you require any special equipment, services, or changes made to the layout of your home, planning ahead will make the adjustment easier when you leave rehab. Working with the team at your rehab center and being sure to ask questions will ensure that your planning is accurate and everything you need is in place for your recovery.

Erica LaGruth, Program Director of Outpatient Rehabilitation Services at Christian Health, says one of the most important things to keep in mind when getting your home ready for your recovery is eliminating tripping hazards. “Items such as throw rugs, bath mats, and other items stored on the floor, such as magazine racks, shoes in walking paths, and decorative items, can be a recipe for trouble if transitioning to your home using a new device such as a rolling walker,” she says. “Always make sure that your walkways are clear of tripping hazards, and if you prefer not to wear shoes in the house, opt for non-skid socks to prevent slipping on hard surfaces.”

Some other common preparations may include the following.

  • Making space for a hospital bed or other medical equipment
  • Establishing a safe and accessible place for medication
  • Using a night light to illuminate the path to the bathroom to avoid falls
  • Clearing walkways to make space for a wheelchair or walker
  • Rearranging essential items so that they are easily in reach
  • Installing safeguards or assistive devices in the bathroom to prevent falls

Your physical and occupational therapists will be able to provide all the information you need for home modifications, equipment, or assistance required for you to be safe and comfortable. Many short-term rehab centers even offer home evaluations to assess possible hazards and recommend necessary medical equipment or assistive devices.

Set Goals

Setting clearly defined but realistic goals for your recovery will keep you motivated and help you progress. Your therapists are the best resource for understanding your individual recovery needs and mapping out a plan to accomplish your goals. “Therapy doesn't end when discharged from the Post-Acute Care Unit, and neither should your motivation to exercise!” says Ms. LaGruth. “Keep building on the gains made with your therapists by following exercise instructions and increasing your activity daily to build up the endurance needed to get back to all your favorite things.”

And while it’s natural to be anxious to return to your previous independence, rushing through the steps of your recovery plan can cause setbacks and extend the process further. Taking one step at a time as recommended by your therapist is the best, safest, and healthiest way to advance through your healing process and meet your goals effectively.

Some things to keep in mind when setting goals include the following.

  • Have a time frame. Having a timeline in mind for recovery helps you measure progress. Work with your therapist to map out a schedule for your recovery goals based on your specific condition and needs.
  • Be realistic. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Follow the advice of your medical professionals to a tee to avoid further injury and prevent roadblocks to recovery.
  • Communicate often. Keeping open communication with your therapists will keep you motivated and enable you to address any problems that arise when meeting your goals so that you can rectify them quickly.
  • Get enough rest. “Our bodies work hard to sustain all our daily activities, and if still in the process of recovery, more rest breaks or energy conservation may be necessary,” says Ms. LaGruth. “Tasks such as folding laundry, preparing food items to cook, or setting up a weekly medication pill case can be performed seated instead of standing at a countertop.”

Use Available Resources

Making the most of the resources available to you to aid in your recovery will ensure the experience is as painless as possible. At Christian Health we provide our patients with access to our Transitional Care Suite in the Bolger Gym and Wellness Center: a fully operational apartment setup complete with washer and dryer, dishwasher, electric stove, oven, microwave, tub shower, and stall shower. “Clients benefit from the experience of managing self-care and home tasks prior to transitioning to the home in order to be prepared for returning to their own living environments with increased confidence and comfort,” says Ms. LaGruth. “Having a fully functional apartment setup helps us strategize with patients on safety considerations, make recommendations for assistive device and adaptive equipment, as well as provide guidance on hiring additional help at home. In this environment we are able to practice essential home management tasks [and] basic and instrumental activities of daily living.”

Aside from enlisting the assistance and advice of your rehab team before and after your discharge, there are many other helpful resources to assist in your recovery process. Programs offering home meal deliveries and transportation services for doctor’s appointments may be available in your community – be sure to discuss your local options with your short-term rehab team before you are discharged so that you can make any necessary plans before you arrive home. If you have friends or family members available to help you with daily tasks, don’t be embarrassed to reach out for their support. Resisting asking for the help you need can set back your recovery progress unnecessarily.

To get more information about inpatient short-term rehab at Christian Health, please call (201) 848-5855. For outpatient short-term rehab, please call (201) 848-5518.