Choosing an assisted living facility can be a daunting task, and checking out the staff at each resident is a vital step in the decision-making process. While you’re investigating the people who will be caring for your parents, make sure the facility has a physical therapist on-site!
Why does it matter? Can’t your parent just go to a doctor’s office for any rehabilitation needs?
Of course, but having therapy on-site may make a big difference in your parent’s long-term health. We usually think of physical therapy (PT) as a step in healing from a major injury, such as a broken hip, or a surgery, such as a knee replacement. In fact, according to Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc., 81 percent of assisted living residents require therapy for at least one everyday task. Having an on-site therapist means every resident will be screened regularly, so if there is a change in condition, it will be found and attended to promptly.
Changes in elderly patients’ health can be subtle; take for instance loss of balance or cognition. Catching changes as they happen will allow the therapist and other staff members to implement a treatment plan immediately and ensure that all staff members are working together to resolve the issue. An on-site therapist can track progress and refine treatment immediately because the entire staff is part of the plan.
Having a physical therapist in house saves time and money, too. If you’ve been the primary caregiver of your parent, you know how time-consuming a trip to the doctor is and how exhausting an outing can be for the elderly or infirm. It’s much simpler for your loved one to visit a therapist who’s already on campus. And because the therapist is a staff member, your parent will already be familiar with him.
Since PT is taken care of under the same roof, you’ll probably find it more effective, too. Because all staff members are in on the plan, your parent will most likely be more enthusiastic when it comes to implementing the exercises or lifestyle changes the therapist recommends, and progress will be monitored daily instead of once or twice a week. Your parent will also be encouraged by friends and neighbors, because there won’t be any stigma associated with needing help for minor tasks that used to be taken for granted. Perhaps mom or dad will even get a bit competitive at the dinner table, vying to be the one that makes the most progress the fastest!
All in all, the benefits your parent will reap by having an on-site physical therapist at the assisted living facility should make in-house PT one of the top requirements when you’re looking for your parent’s future home. Highlight this question on your checklist as you visit assisted living facilities, and make sure the campus you choose has a physical therapist on its permanent staff.