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Top 3 Reasons Seniors Should Learn More About Proactive Rehab to Live Independently at Home

Every senior wants to live as independently as possible for as long as possible at home (or wherever we call home). Unfortunately, most rehabilitation services such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy only kick in after a health crisis, focus on recuperation, and can be provided in a facility or as home care.

As Karen McCarren, MS, PT, Director of Rehabilitation Services for Lifesprk Home Health, explains ‘rehab’ usually means that you are trying to rehabilitate someone because they aren’t at their healthiest. Think broken hip, pneumonia, recent fall, brain injury, muscle strain to name a few. Seniors faced with these medical conditions may require in-home rehabilitation services. “Typically, the goal of their rehab home care plan is repairing and making sure the person gets back to their prior level of function,” said Karen. “Proactive rehabilitation, or what we at Lifesprk call Prohab, is bigger and in my opinion better because it’s about the person – their needs and goals with a focus on maintaining, improving, and avoiding injury long-term. Prohab is care at home for everyone, even if you haven’t experienced an injury.”

Taking a prohab or proactive prevention approach helps seniors especially maintain a solid level of control and independence. Karen added, “Instead of repair, prohab is about prepare and prevent,” which keeps seniors living independently as long as possible.

Karen recognizes that many of Lifesprk’s Home Health clients are getting ‘prohab’ after an injury or hospitalization but the approach she and her team is taking is making a difference in how clients remain healthy long after. “We start with the person – what are their goals? And we get to know them on a personal level,” said Karen. She pointed out seniors’ goals vary in their extremes from wanting to walk up the stairs again and participating in an exercise class to getting back to volunteering, public speaking, or starting a new hobby. “Public speaking is a unique one but important to note as every elder is different,” said Karen. “Many people put rehab in the same category as physical therapy (PT) but it’s more than just PT, it’s also speech and occupational therapy as well.”

Elders want a plan that incorporates exercises and goals meaningful to them. “Rehab is customary, textbook stuff that everyone practices,” said Karen. “It doesn’t get to the core of what makes people whole like prohab does. We want every senior we serve to be part of the journey to wellness versus someone just going through the motions for them.”

Karen shares the 3 top reasons seniors and their families should know more about prohab:

  1. Early identification and a comprehensive approach: Karen said following your gut is often the best way to identify whether there is an issue, and then use prohab to do something about it. “You know your body best. If you start to notice, or witness in an aging loved one, even subtle changes such as: difficulty walking indoors/outdoors, vision changes, hoarse or breathy voice, inability to recall correct word or name to things, difficulty with showering or even cooking or even decreased coordination, these could signal a call for added support. Don’t wait for a fall or injury to happen. Addressing these issues early through prohab prevents loss of control and independence later on.”
  2. Reaching goals that seniors may not have considered possible. Karen shared one story of a client whose goal after hip surgery was to be able to go to a family member’s wedding. “Rehab would have accomplished that goal, but when we dug deeper and got to know this client, we learned her real desire was to dance at the wedding, not just attend it. That’s prohab and a central philosophy of Lifesprk services. Nothing works unless a person is engaged.” One of the major benefits of a prohab approach is putting the person’s goals at the focal point of care – the actions you take should support those initial goals. And those goals are often more than just recuperation – they are to truly live life on their own terms.You have to incorporate a person’s goals to improve lives in any care plan. Rehab helps you get back to the level of health you were at before the injury or health crisis (recuperation) but prohab is defined by your goals (living). “At Lifesprk, we get you back to the level of health/wellness you want,” explained Karen. “There’s always something to look forward to that’s incremental and meaningful to you. And many times, our seniors are surprised at what they can accomplish. Subtle improvements give seniors hope that reaching their goals is possible, and it might be for something new and different they never thought they could do.”
  3. Maintaining a positive level of health/wellness. Prohab goes beyond rehab, just as whole person senior care goes beyond home care. The beauty of a prohab approach is that you do not need to wait for a problem to happen. Prohab is evergreen, when you are back at the level of health you desired, the care doesn’t have to end. Or even if you have not had any recent health crises or injuries, prohab can help you work to prevent issues for which you may be at risk. “You don’t go to your health club because there’s an issue,” said Karen. “You go to keep you healthy and proactive. That’s basically prohab. Strengthen, prepare, and avoid hospitalizations now so you can live a healthier life long-term. But if an injury or crisis has occurred, proactive prevention gets you back on your feet and according to your goals.”

Have you experienced prohab or rehab? What did you find was different in the approach? What worked for you? Share on!

Concerned about an aging loved one or interested in proactive rehabilitation for you? Give our Navigation desk a call at 952-345-0919 for ideas and suggestions on where to start.