Lexington Health Network

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How to continue healing after physical therapy and rehabilitation

Let’s face it: No one can escape being injured. House cleaning, yard work and other activities that we engage in out of necessity, plus leisure-time pursuits such as ballroom dancing or gardening, increase everyone’s risk of sustaining a life-changing injury.

In order to make a full recovery, it may be necessary to complete physical therapy and rehabilitation. But what happens after that? Here’s some advice for improving the recovery process.

Continue to follow the doctor’s orders

Sure it’s tempting to try to resume a familiar routine following rehab and physical therapy. For the best results, though, it’s wise to stick to a physician’s instructions.

Take steps to ensure safety

It’s likely that many household chores will be difficult to complete, if not completely off limits, following physical therapy and rehab. Lifting, bending and leaning can worsen an injury or create a new one. A relative, friend or paid caregiver can clean the home and survey the surroundings for safety hazards. It may also be necessary to install such features as wheelchair ramps and railing along the stairways.

A good diet helps the healing process

Proper nutrition plays a critical role during and after physical therapy and rehab. A medically prescribe diet is usually part of the at-home recovery phase. Friends, family members and in-home caregivers can cook the appropriate food and freeze it. Seniors who are able to maneuver in the kitchen can then microwave the meals and enjoy them. Other seniors may need more assistance at mealtime.

Make arrangements for transportation

At-home recovery has its disadvantages, one of which is the challenge related to transportation. Driving is also usually off limits for a certain period, but it’s still important for seniors to keep medical appointments and run errands. Relatives, friends, volunteers and paid caregivers can all be part of the solution.

Consider hiring an in-home care provider

It’s not always feasible for loved ones and friends to assist a senior recovering from an injury. If professional help is needed, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice provides a list of questions to ask providers and those providing references for them. The association’s website also features the Home Care/Hospice Agency Locator.

Maintain emotional, mental and physical health

A healthy body, mind and spirit increase a senior’s ability to properly recover from an injury. Family and friends are an ideal source of interaction and engagement on a social and intellectual level. Their presence in a senior’s life can ward off anxiety, depression and isolation. And exercise is critical for preserving physical and mental well-being.

Guard against future injuries

What are two of the best ways to prevent another injury? Exercise and awareness. In terms of exercise, seniors should engage in regular physical activity within the range of their capabilities. As for awareness, seniors and the friends and relatives in their lives should constantly be on alert for potential problems great and small – ranging from physical overexertion to safety hazards throughout the home.

It is possible to fully recover from an injury following physical therapy and rehabilitation. Seniors who take all the necessary precautions as well as maintain a positive attitude are the most likely to get the best outcome.

For more information on senior care, download our free guideSenior Living: Regaining your confidence after a life-changing injury.