Rehabilitation at Home

After a major surgery, illness, or injury, often the next stop is short term rehabilitation at a transitional care facility before being sent home.  The last few words are key: sent home.  Up to this point you have been in the care of skilled professionals with years and even decades of training and experience under their belt, with certain treatment methodologies so familiar they’ve become muscle memory.  As a home care giver taking on these responsibilities can be daunting.  Fortunately, there are a great number of resources to help ease the transition from skilled nursing to home care.

Before Going Home

Process The Changes

Whether you have hours or days to prepare for the transition, take some time to begin to process the life changes that need to take place during recovery.  From work arrangements and social changes, to rearranging furniture to make access and accommodations more comfortable.

Schedule Help

This is not the time to be the hero; you’re going to need breaks—physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Rely on the assistance of extended family and close friends to fill in for you regularly so you can care for yourself.  Even 1-2 hours in the afternoon can be helpful to recharge a caregiver’s batteries.  When thinking of helpers, don’t immediately dismiss people who you don’t envision comfortable being hands-on caring for and pushing the patient in rehabilitation, running errands is equally valuable.  Whether it’s the grocery store, pharmacy, or taking the dog for a walk—the little things add up.

Set The Rules

The patient will be discharged with a list of “dos and don’ts” for the recovery process.  Treat this like a recovery bible, and plan out meals, schedule prescribed therapies, and communicate the Law of the Land to the patient.  While it will be challenging, structure greases the skids for a safe and uneventful recovery process.

Clean The Home

This may be a great opportunity for some friends to help out tangibly in a non-caregiver manner.  Coming home to a clean house can help alleviate stress for both the caregiver and patient.

Things to Understand About Recovery

Recovery can be hard, but you’re not alone in it.  If you have questions, concerns, or a pending breakdown, call the surgeon’s office and speak to a nurse, or connect with your rehabilitation center if you feel the patient needs to return for follow-up care.  It’s pretty normal to experience pain during recovery and especially therapies, but they are designed for recovery, not for comfort.  Be prepared for the patient to experience frustration and irritability when things don’t go as planned, and know your loved one’s limits.  If it’s time to back off for a bit, back off, but communicate that they will need to try again in a little while.

Home care can be a trying time during recovery, so please be sure you plan ahead and use the resources you have received from the hospital and rehabilitation center; they put that information together to provide a smooth and successful recovery for the patient.

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