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How to Survive Your First Rehab Experience

How to Survive Your First Rehab Experience

March 4, 2020

Very few people make it through their aging journey without experiencing a trip to the hospital, a surgery or a rehabilitation stay.  Hospitals are set up to get us to a point of stability while rehabilitation’s goal is to bring us back to baseline functioning (or even better than before). How can you survive your first rehabilitation experience successfully?

Communication

Telling the truth about your condition, your lifestyle and pain levels are crucial to setting up a care plan that accommodates your unique needs and body.  Hiding any health or medication issues slows the process of healing. Make sure the medical professionals that are involved in your care plan know everything possible about your lifestyle, medications and body. This will set both you and them up for a more effective care plan.

Involve Family

Partnering with one or more family members is an important part of recovery and advocacy for your wellbeing. Keep the communication lines open between your selected family members and the medical professionals caring for you.  Often, care plans are discussed with you and your family so that you have a supportive network surrounding you as you set rehabilitation goals and make plans to return home. Encourage family to observe therapy, participate in key meetings to better understand what it will take for you to return to full strength.

Thrive in Therapy

Physical, occupational and speech therapies are a necessary part of many recovery processes. Whether you have suffered a neurological incident, surgery or other medical procedure, therapy is an important step in reducing pain, increasing mobility and returning your body to a point of being able to complete everyday tasks. While in rehabilitation, you may be asked to participate in therapy more than once a day.  Therapy is designed to take you outside of your comfort zone to build strength and allow your body to heal itself without barriers, so take advantage of every opportunity to work with your therapist. Remember that they have worked with many different types of bodies and have a fuller understanding of the physical possibilities your body offers.

Set Realistic Goals

More often than not, it will take more time to heal completely than the time spent in rehabilitation.  Work with your care providers to set realistic goals during your stay and celebrate the small victories along the way. For most strokes, surgeries, joint replacements or medical interventions, it may take months to regain full strength or mobility. The key is to work with your physician and therapists to reach your highest potential.

Stay on top of medications

There are two imbalances to medication: over use and under use. Staying on top of your pain allows you to heal faster but you want to avoid any dependencies. Take advantage of non-medicine techniques that are offered such as ice, therapy or non-addictive medications whenever your doctor makes them available.  Opioids, both illegal and prescribed, have caused a surge of deaths in the United States in the past two decades. Even with the growth in addiction awareness, about 130 Americans die every day from an opioid pain killer overdose. It is important to follow the instructions of your physician at all times.

Remember Rehabilitation is Temporary

Look at your rehabilitation stay as a workshop. Unlike a relaxing spa vacation, your rehabilitation will require tenacity, work and discomfort at times.  It is a time of learning how your body functions and responds to challenges and a short window of time where you are given the most opportunity for healing. Once you get home, you will not have the team of healthcare professionals surrounding you throughout the day encouraging your success, so take full advantage of your rehabilitation stay.

Follow Up

One study suggests that up to 70% of outpatients do not adhere with treatment and exercise plans after rehabilitation. Following up with therapy and doctor’s orders is crucial for your full recovery. It can also prevent re-hospitalization.  Continue your rehabilitation goals well after leaving the rehabilitation center and make physician checkup visits a priority.

Surviving your rehabilitation stay following a medical intervention or incident can be a positive experience full of the joy of accomplishment.  Give yourself the grace to acknowledge your temporary physical weaknesses while laying hold of the confidence needed to work hard and move forward with a plan for healing. 

CRISTA Senior Living offers rehabilitation services that will help you return to what you love. You can find out more at www.cristaseniorliving.org orcall today to schedule a visit before you head into surgery.