You know your mother, you love your mother, but when she fell and broke her hip and hospitalized a day later, she was dead-set on never moving out of her home. She basically said, “Once I’m discharged from this hospital, I’ll do all the physical therapy I need at my home on my own time.” But that’s not realistic.
After a traumatic injury, and especially if it’s a broken bone, you should go to a skilled nursing home for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Of course, as soon as our elders hear “nursing homes”, they panic; they reset to when nursing homes were debilitating environments… even if that wasn’t the case for the majority.
Don’t allow your loved one to go back home if their doctor and the hospital staff recommend a stay at a nursing home; and don’t fall victim to these lies and excuses.
1. They’ll Never Let Me Go Back Home
Nursing homes (or more appropriately, skilled nursing facilities) are temporary homes. The idea of an “old folks’ home” is very dated and now “nursing home” is often wrongly used as an umbrella term for senior housing.
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are temporary recovery homes. They help with rehabilitation (from broken bones or a stroke) and all kinds of therapy (be it verbal, physical, or occupational).
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you do not live there. It’s a temporary stay.
2. It’s Too Expensive
Nursing homes are far less expensive than inpatient hospital bills—that’s why they exist. Skilled nursing facilities provide the maximum amount of care you can receive short of being in the hospital. What that means is, you’re getting top-notch care but at a much less expensive rate.
Now SNFs are usually covered by Medicare Part B (outpatient), as opposed to Part A (inpatient), and you may be thinking, “If I don’t have Part B, isn’t it less expensive to stay in the hospital?” which is a fair question, but the answer is “No”.
First of all, Part A will only cover a certain amount of days in the hospital before you need to pay the entire amount, which is incredibly expensive. Secondly, even if you receive “inpatient” care, the doctors may register you as an “outpatient” because they’re monitoring your wellbeing. If that’s the case, it is also going to be very expensive. Third, SNFs are there to make sure you don’t wind up back in the hospital, which would be more costly than accepting the temporary stay.
3. They Won’t Heal Me
By this, your mother probably said something along the lines of, “I don’t need a physical therapist, I’ll learn to walk again on my own.” That would be great if not for the phrase “I’m my own worst critic.”
Imagine trying to heal, trying to walk again, with nothing but the sound of negative thoughts in your head. Things like, “C’mon, your granddaughter can do this!” and “Everyone expects you to fail, that’s why they wanted to stick you in a home.”
With a broken hip especially, healing takes time, but more than that, it takes tact and positive reinforcement. Physical therapists know how much strain you can put on yourself, and they keep pushing you to get you to heal faster.
(Plus, you don’t want to overexert yourself and wind up back in the hospital again.)
4. They Won’t Let Me Outdoors
Most SNFs are secure facilities meaning they lock all the doors. This isn’t meant to make the home feel like a prison, but to ensure that you don’t have people wandering off when they’re not ready (this is mainly for dementia-ridden elders).
However, to compensate for the locked facility, most have an outdoor garden area on-campus—sometimes in between the two main buildings. SNFs have come a long way and they do believe that getting outside and gardening helps speed recovery, so most make an effort to secure that type of environment.
5. They’ll Keep Me Drugged
There’s this fear among mothers that they’ll be drugged as soon as they enter into a nursing home. They’re worried that the staff will try to keep them there forever, but why would they? The goal of SNFs is to help you get back home.
It serves nobody’s benefit to keep you drugged to prevent recovery. If you need pain medication or if your doctor prescribes medications to take, then those will be provided, but the idea that they’re going to keep you in a vegetative state is just a fearful imagination.
6. Everyone is Dying
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Nursing homes are not synonymous with hospice care.
Furthermore, one of the nice things about nursing homes is the fact that they’re open to all ages, so your elder may forge a bond with a teenage athlete who damaged his knee. The staff believe that having a variety of people helps motivate and remind the residents that they’re capable of great things. It’s an environment built to help people heal and thrive.