It’s always a difficult and emotional time when your aging parent or loved one suffers a stroke, has a heart attack or undergoes surgery. This is especially true when they’re not yet able to come home. Often, people will need rehabilitation after these medical events, which can mean going to a short-term rehab facility.
It’s common for patients to resist the idea of going into a rehab facility instead of going home. We’ve gathered some tips and guidelines to help guide your conversations with your loved one and ease them into the idea of short-term, inpatient rehab.
Explain the Importance
Help them understand how limited and challenging it would be – for everyone – if they were to come home in their current situation. And beyond the short-term challenges, it’s critical to communicate how going without rehab can impact the rest of their life. Rehab will likely be imperative for them to have a full recovery and get back to their previous level of activity (or as close to it as possible). Stress that short-term rehab is exactly that: short term. And that it’s worth taking the time to heal and get stronger in the long run.
You may find that it’s easier for your loved one to hear this information from a medical professional – so don’t be afraid to let the doctor or another health care professional bear the brunt of this conversation. Make sure the doctor is explaining the situation clearly and in terms that everyone can understand.
Understand Their Feelings
These conversations can be frustrating, but try to resist the urge to interrupt or dominate the entire conversation. Your loved one likely wants to be heard, so try and listen as much as you speak. You want to constantly remind them that you care for them and really want to help, which means actually listening and responding (instead of just waiting to spit out your talking points). Remember that because you know them well, you have a special insight into their feelings and personality, so make sure to leverage that knowledge and address their unique personal concerns.
Explain the Financial Impact
To make things even more challenging, it’s often tricky to navigate the rules and timing of health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. There may be situations where, if your loved one refuses to go directly from the hospital into a rehab center, then their rehabilitation coverage is immediately forfeited. If they change their mind later, they may have to go through another hospital stay in order to qualify for coverage, or pay for rehab without coverage.
Another second financial burden to discuss is if another family member is unable to provide adequate care at home and medical staff will need to be hired. Seniors sometimes respond better to this kind of monetary explanation rather than medical implications, so make sure that’s part of your conversation should it be an issue.
What to Expect
Staying in a new place away from friends and family can certainly be daunting, so it’s important to help your loved one know exactly what to expect. This can help demystify the experience and put some of their fears to rest.
Before this conversation, you may want to ask the doctor and/or the physical therapist a number of questions:
- What kinds of results are they hoping to see?
- What goals should your loved one have for recovery – both short- and long-term?
- What does your loved one have to do to help achieve a full recovery?
- How long will the recovery process take?
- What will a typical day at the rehab center look like?
If possible, tour the facility beforehand – meeting with caregivers and the administration. This will help your loved one get comfortable and familiar with the center and see firsthand how nice and comfortable it will be. Help them get a feel for what a typical day will look like for them. Reassure them that they won’t be staying in a cold, sterile room and that they will be able to bring personal belongings such as pictures, blankets and anything else they’d like. Also plan to discuss how often you will visit and what kinds of activities you can do together.
Don’t Go It Alone
If speaking to your loved one by yourself doesn’t work, you may want to bring in some reinforcements. Perhaps a best friend, religious leader or (adult) grandchild can lend another voice of reason that may be more easily accepted. (Let’s face it – we all have a tendency to not listen to our closest relatives from time to time.) If you know someone who went through a similar medical challenge, it could be very beneficial for your loved one to hear about their experience.
Short-Term Rehabilitation at Evergreen
At Evergreen Health and Rehab, we are happy to help with your loved one’s transition from the hospital into short-term rehabilitation. With our warm, inviting atmosphere, attractive surroundings and quality medical care, we feel confident that we can offer every patient the best possible inpatient rehab experience. Feel free to contact us with questions or for assistance in making a decision.