Inpatient vs. Outpatient Senior Rehabilitation: The Key Differences to Keep in Mind

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Senior Rehabilitation: The Key Differences to Keep in Mind

When seniors are released from the hospital after surgeries, injuries, or serious illnesses, they are typically referred to rehabilitation services. There are two types of rehabilitation available: inpatient and outpatient senior rehabilitation. Read on to find out about the key differences between the two to make the right decision.

Forms of Therapy Offered

The Senior Therapy Services available at an inpatient rehab are more focused and intensive. They’re designed to maximize patients’ recovery and ensure that they can return home safely to complete the healing process. Therapies are offered daily on-site, and trained occupational, physical, and speech therapists will all work together to help seniors meet their unique rehabilitation goals.

With outpatient rehabilitation, seniors will still have access to trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists. They will need to be transported to and from the facility for each appointment and complete additional tasks at home. Outpatient therapy is typically less intensive since the need for transportation to and from the facility precludes daily appointments.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Senior Rehabilitation: The Key Differences to Keep in Mind

Level of Ability

Inpatient rehabilitation is typically recommended for all seniors who can’t return home safely after their stay in the hospital. Patients are typically recovering from major illnesses, injuries, or surgeries that have caused substantial mobility problems or deconditioning. The skilled therapists who serve these patients know how to create custom plans tailored to their current strength and mobility and offer focused care to help them return to their pre-hospitalization levels.

Outpatient rehabilitation requires that seniors perform exercises and activities at home to maximize their progress. That means they must have a safe home environment to return to, they must be capable of moving around the home by themselves, and they must stay motivated to keep their rehabilitation schedules on track themselves. Outpatient rehab doesn’t always provide the same results as inpatient rehab since it’s much more dependent on external factors like whether seniors live alone, what kind of assistive devices they have at home, and how motivated they are to make a full recovery.

Length of Treatment

Since inpatient rehabilitation centers offer more focused and intensive therapies, most patients recover faster. It’s often the case that seniors referred to inpatient rehab stay for as long as necessary to recover sufficient strength and mobility to return home safely then receive referrals to outpatient rehab for long-term care.

Outpatient rehabilitation programs usually take longer to complete. The therapists can’t see their patients as often, which means they can’t prescribe new exercises, stretches, and activities. Since patients are responsible for completing their daily tasks at home without the assistance of trained therapists following each appointment, the length of treatment time varies substantially based on how seriously they take the program.

The Convenience Factor

Inpatient rehabilitation services are available at retirement communities. That means patients will receive all the care they need to make a full recovery on-site, not just physical, occupational, and speech therapy services.

Outpatient rehabilitation takes place in hospitals and clinics. Seniors will have to arrange transportation to and from appointments and make other arrangements for getting additional help with their recoveries such as skilled nursing care or home assistance.

The Bottom Line

Targeted rehabilitation therapy dramatically increases injured or ill seniors’ chances of returning to their pre-hospitalization levels of mobility, strength, and independence. If their illnesses or injuries were serious, inpatient rehabilitation will usually help them meet this goal faster.

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