Questions to Ask at a Senior Rehab Care Conference

When someone is staying at an inpatient rehab center, it’s natural for their loved ones to want to be kept in the loop and informed of their parent’s or loved one’s progress. Family communication at a physical therapy center is a vital part of the healing process. A good rehab center will make sure it’s easy for you to remain involved.

One of the ways this is accomplished is through a care conference. This is an opportunity for a patient and their loved ones to talk with the care team about the care plan and any questions they might have.


How do I know if a skilled rehab center is the right option?


What Is a Patient Care Conference?

A patient care conference is a scheduled meeting between a patient in a hospital, rehabilitation center or assisted living community and their care team. Family members are welcome to join the care conferences—in fact, it’s encouraged whenever possible.

For most senior rehab and physical therapy centers, a care conference typically comes after someone is admitted. At MacIntosh, for example, we arrange a care conference with the person receiving care, their loved ones and our key care team members after the admission process is complete.

As far as care team members go, you can expect to see staff members such as a therapy manager, social worker and nurse unit manager at a care conference. Don’t be concerned if you don’t see your parent’s physician at the conference—it’s not standard for them to be included. The therapy team will be able to answer any questions you may have.

During the care conference, the plan of care is reviewed and therapy goals are discussed. You’ll also go over the therapy schedule and begin to talk about discharge plans, since most rehab patients have an average stay of around twelve days (however, it could be shorter or longer depending on their condition). You’ll also have a chance to ask any questions you might have about things such as insurance coverage, therapy techniques and more.

Questions to Ask at a Senior Rehab Patient Care Conference

You’ll likely have some questions already in mind about your parent’s rehab plan. But if you’re wondering where to even begin with your questions, here are a few ideas:

  • What types of therapy does my parent need?
  • What are your COVID-19 Protocols?
  • What is their rehab schedule going to look like?
  • What will they be doing when they aren’t in therapy?
  • How are medications handled?
  • Who is the best person to contact if I have any concerns or questions during their stay?
  • What is your current visitation policy?
  • Can you accommodate their dietary restrictions?
  • How will the transition home be handled?
  • After my parent is home, will they need any additional care?

Tip: As the care conference draws near, it might be a good idea to jot down any questions you have so you don’t forget.

Senior Rehab Patient Care Conference Format

So, now that you have your questions prepared, what can you expect when you go to a care conference? Every conference is different but in general, the meeting follows a certain structure.

First, you’ll be introduced to the care team members (if you haven’t already met). If you have any questions about someone’s role, don’t be shy! Just ask and they can explain what they do and how they’ll be working with your parent.

During the conference, you’ll likely go over your parent’s condition to get the care team’s professional opinion. Then, they’ll go over the care plan with you and your parent. This is an excellent time to ask any questions you might have, both about the plan and the community in general. With everyone in the same room, it’s easy to get all your questions answered so everybody’s on the same page.

That’s the point of a care conference—to ensure both you and your parent are fully informed and don’t have any lingering questions. Your input and your parent’s needs are important. The physical therapy team wants to make sure that everyone’s working toward the same goals and that each person is comfortable with the plan.

For more information on how staff to family communication works throughout the rehab process, read our blog, How is Patient and Family Communication Handled in Rehab? Our expert will walk you through what you can expect during pre-admission, admission, rehab, discharge and post-discharge.

Columbus and Central Ohio Senior Rehab Centers

If you’re looking for senior rehab and physical therapy centers in the Columbus area, The MacIntosh Company offers rehab at centers in New Albany, Canal Winchester, Mill Run, Grove City, Circleville and other convenient Columbus-area locations.

Our Canal WinchesterMill RunMontereyNew AlbanyPickawayWest Park and Whetstone communities all offer post hospital physical therapy services. You’re welcome to call or contact us with any questions or to arrange a tour.


Choosing a Columbus Ohio Senior Physical Therapy Provider

Picking a post hospital senior rehab center can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve created a free guide, What to Consider When Choosing a Skilled Rehabilitation Center. In it, you’ll find answers to frequently asked rehab questions to help you during your search.

What Are Some Examples of Therapy Exercises?

Dear Jeremy,

My husband was recently hospitalized for a bad case of pneumonia. He’s recovering but he’s going to need rehabilitation after he leaves the hospital to get back on his feet.

He’s a little nervous because he has no idea what to expect. Can you give me some examples of therapy exercises? I think it would help put his mind at ease.

Lori T.

Columbus, OH

Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy Exercise Examples

Dear Lori,

I’m glad to hear that your husband is making good progress in his recovery. The fact that he needs some therapy is nothing to worry about. In fact, we see a lot of patients at our rehab center this time of year with generalized weakness, which is common when people get sick with the flu or pneumonia.

What we’ll do with people in his situation is work on strength and medication management. Patients receive personal training and therapy, and that—in addition to healthy meals—helps them to gain their strength back.

As requested, here are examples of the three types of therapy exercises typically provided to older adults: physical, occupational and speech therapy.


Related: Ask the Expert: Post-Hospital Rehab Insurance Questions


Physical Therapy Exercises

A good way to think about the difference between physical and occupational therapy is that it’s like dividing the body in half. Physical therapy exercises work on everything below the waist while occupational therapy exercises work on everything above.

With physical therapy exercises, we work on ambulation (walking) and gate training. We’re focused on getting the patient as mobile as possible, so we’ll work on things such as their range of motion, their balance, their ability to climb stairs, sit-to-stand transfers (such as getting out of a chair) and so on.

We’ll also do some leg strengthening exercises with leg weights, exercise machines and bikes.

Another common physical therapy exercise is to work on transfers from the floor in case the person has a fall at home. We show patients how to get up from a fall position, either to their feet or to a position to call someone for help.

Who Benefits from Physical Therapy?

As I mentioned above, we see a lot of patients with generalized weakness who need physical therapy. However, physical therapy is also beneficial to patients who have had procedures such as knee or hip replacements, or elective back surgeries.

Occupational Therapy Exercises

Occupational therapy exercises are designed to help patients complete common, everyday tasks.

Some examples of occupational therapy exercises we use are:

  • Upper body strength exercises
  • Bathing and dressing
  • Light meal prep
  • Medication management

Occupational therapy exercises are tailored to each patient. They’re meant to cover any type of daily activity the patient may come across.

Our goal is to adapt to whatever our patients need in their regular lives. For example, we had one patient who had a dog and needed to be able to clean up after her. We bought a scoop and some Tootsie Rolls, and our therapist practiced the chore with her.

It may seem minor, but that exercise helped the patient become better equipped to return home—and to stay safe and healthy once there.

Who Benefits from Occupational Therapy?

We see a lot of overlap in occupational and physical therapy patients. Often they need each type as part of their personalized care plan.

Speech Therapy Exercises

Speech therapy exercises help seniors who are struggling with speech, memory or swallowing issues.

Some examples of exercises include strengthening the muscles around the throat or using electric stimulation on those muscles to help with swallowing. The patient may also practice with small bites of food to decrease the risk of aspiration.

Sometimes we also work on vocalization. If someone has weak vocal cords, we use exercises to help them speak louder.

Who Benefits from Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is typically for patients with cognition issues. If someone comes in with mild or severe cognitive deficits (either from anesthesia or a form of dementia), we work with them on recovering what memory they can. We also help them acclimate to the facility.

If someone comes in with severe dementia, we know we won’t be able to get them to remember everything. But we can get them to remember to hit their call light or put the locks on their wheelchair to keep them safe.

And, as I mentioned above, speech therapy can also help seniors with swallowing issues.


Related: Transitioning Home After a Rehab Stay


Therapy for Older Adults at a Rehab Center: What to Expect

The type of therapy a patient receives depends on their situation.

To give you an idea of the process, when patients come into New Albany Rehabilitation Center, Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living, they receive a physical therapy and occupational evaluation.

Not everyone needs speech therapy, so those evaluations are not routine. However, physical and occupational therapy are always needed.

The type and amount of therapy a patient receives is then determined based on the results of the evaluations. Goals are set based on what the patient wants and a surgeon’s input.

For all patients, we set family meetings to come up with a discharge plan for that patient. If a patient lives alone, we try to make them as independent as possible upon discharge.

I hope this helps! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Jeremy Evans, PTA, LMT
Rehabilitation Manager
New Albany Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living


Admitting from Home to Skilled Nursing & Rehab

Dear Averi:

I work at a Columbus-area hospital and am interested in learning more about your admission process. Our department often receives questions about how to admit a senior directly from home to a skilled nursing and rehab center, and we are a little confused about how it works.

Would you be able to outline those requirements for us? Any advice would be helpful.



How to Admit a Senior from Home to a Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center

Dear Alice:

What a good question! Admission requirements can definitely be confusing for families. Hopefully, this overview will help:

  • When an older adult wants to be admitted to a skilled care or rehab center, we need to review their most up-to-date clinical information. This includes a History and Physical, as well as a medication list. For seniors living at home, their primary care physician’s office is probably the best place to locate this information. If the senior receives home health services, their notes will help, too.

  • This clinical information is what rehab centers will use to determine if the patient meets the qualifications for skilled nursing care or long-term care.

  • The patient’s insurance will also play a role. Medicare requires a 3-night inpatient stay in a hospital before admission. If the senior was recently hospitalized, they may be able to use their Medicare benefit.

  • Managed care insurance companies typically require therapy notes before they will be able to approve a patient’s admission to a skilled nursing center. Like Medicare, they will only pay if skilled care is necessary. They don’t cover long-term care expenses.

  • Medicaid does not pay for skilled nursing care; however, it does cover room and board for long-term care. They require what is called a “Level Of Care” before a patient can be admitted.F

  • Long-term care insurance may also help cover room and board for an older adult. Each policy is different though. We can help review a senior’s policy to see if theirs will cover long-term care.

If the senior doesn’t have any type of insurance that will cover their skilled nursing or rehab care, they will need to pay out of private resources. In this situation, a deposit check is typically required upon admission.

I know this can all be tough to navigate. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me directly. I can help you walk through the process!


Averi Bruce

Admissions Director


Physical Fitness Ideas for Older Adults

Physical activity can also reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases that develop as people age. In some instances, exercise is also an effective treatment for conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

Why Get Physical?

Older adults sometimes think by reducing their activity level and “taking it easy,” they can decrease their risk for experiencing a fall or other injury. But science proves just the opposite is true. Weight training combined with regular exercise can help with core strength, balance and flexibility. That is the best way to reduce your risk for taking a tumble.

Five Fitness Tips for Seniors in Central Ohio

The goal for you as a caregiver and for the senior you care for should be to engage in physical activities that help with endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The experts from the National Institute on Aging recommend the following:

1.    Try to build up to 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard. It is best to exercise every day, but even four days a week will help. Keep in mind that you don’t have to complete all 30 minutes of exercise in one session. You can reap the same rewards from fifteen minutes of exercise twice a day.

2.    Incorporate activities that work your muscles. Strength training with resistance bands or light weights is best. Strong muscles help you to get up from the chair without help, carry groceries, and maintain your independence at home. They also help to prevent falls.

3.    Balance training is also important. It is one of the best things you can do to prevent falls. Tai Chi is a great form of exercise to help improve balance, as is working out with a fitness ball.

4.    Stretching exercises that improve flexibility are key part of staying fit. It can help with everything from driver safety to decreasing the pain of arthritis. Chair yoga and swimming are both good activities for increasing flexibility.

5.    A final tip is to be sure to check with your primary care physician and your senior loved one’s before you begin exercising together.

If you would like to exercise at home and need help getting started, The National Institute on Aging is offering a free DVD workout Go4Life for seniors. The multi-part series is good for older adults of all fitness levels.

Be sure to stop back next week for the third article in our series. We’ll share the experts’ recommendations for preventative screenings.


How Online Caregiving Communities Can Help

Central Ohio caregivers face challenges they may never have expected. Many are caring for aging parents while struggling to juggle their own children’s needs and a full-time job. Others are providing care for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease and trying to find ways to manage difficult behaviors.

What we know about caregivers is that they are usually female. They are the wives, daughters and daughters-in-law of someone who needs care. Connecting with people who share their struggles is one of the best ways to relieve the stress of caregiving. Sometimes the best solution is an online support group.

How Online Support Groups Help Caregivers

Caregiver support group members can help one another with everything from coping with guilt to relieving fears. Sharing feelings with those who are facing a similar challenge is the biggest advantage of an online support group. The moral support and understanding peers provide can make caregivers feel understood. They also help by offering:

1. Anonymity. Some caregivers are more comfortable and will be more honest in sharing their feelings if they can do so anonymously. If they lost their temper and shouted at a demanding parent or broke down in tears after a loved one with dementia refused to sleep all night, it can be easier to share those frustrations with strangers.

2. Flexibility. Another advantage online caregiver communities have to offer is that members can participate when their schedule allows. They can join a chat forum at 2 pm when their loved one is napping or at 3 am when anxiety keeps them from sleeping.

Online Caregiver Support Groups

Caregivers have many options for joining online caregiver communities. The majority of them are free. Here are a few that rank high with family caregivers:

1. Family Caregiver Alliance is one of the best. They are associated with the National Center on Caregiving.

2. is rated high by families because they combine education and reviews with support groups.

3. also combines educational resources and articles with support groups.

We hope this information helps our caregiving friends in central Ohio find a support group that will best fit your needs. Need more tips on aging and care for your aging loved one? Sign up for our e-newsletter today!


4 Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living

You’ve noticed some changes in your parent. Maybe Mom isn’t dressing like she used to, or perhaps Dad no longer plays bridge even though he used to love it. But are these signs that it’s time for assisted living?

It can be difficult to tell whether your parent could benefit from assisted living or not. Here are four signs that it might be time to consider making the move.

Do You Think Your Parent Might Need Assisted Living? Here Are the Signs to Look For

1. An untidy home

If your parent’s home is messy and unkempt, this could be a warning sign.

Of course, everyone has a bit of clutter in their house. This is more in reference to piles of dirty laundry, overflowing trash, stacks of dirty dishes, etc.

If you’re noticing excessive messes, it may be a sign your parent is ready for assisted living.

Why is this a sign? A big mess doesn’t mean that your parent no longer cares about the cleanliness of their home. Rather, it’s much more likely that they can’t physically keep up with the hassle of daily chores.

How can assisted living help? Assisted living communities typically offer housekeeping and linen services as part of their services and amenities.


Learn more about assisted living services and amenities with our Assisted Living Guide.


2. Expired foods and evidence of a diet that consists primarily of convenience foods (i.e. frozen dinners) and fast foods

On your last visit with your parent, did you notice that they’re eating more fast food or microwave meals than they used to?

A trip through the drive-thru every now and then is nothing to raise alarm. But if your parent used to enjoy cooking but now turns more and more to quick, convenient food, it can be another sign.

Why is this a sign? Discover what’s at the root of their new interest in convenience foods. It may be that they no longer want to cook for themselves or that they’re having trouble using appliances and getting around the kitchen.

How can assisted living help?: Whether they’re no longer able to prepare meals or simply no longer enjoy it, communities provide dining services to fit residents’ preferences (and, of course, their tastes).

3. Decline in personal hygiene habits

Pay attention to how your parent is dressed. Are they wearing clean clothes? Have they brushed their hair and teeth?

If you notice a decline in their personal hygiene, it could be another indicator.

Why is this a sign? If your parent is no longer taking care of themselves, this could be sign it’s time for assisted living as it might be because they’re physically struggling. But you might want to talk with their doctor, as it could also indicate dementia or depression.

How can assisted living help? If they need it, residents can receive assistance with daily activities like dressing, cooking, transportation or bathing.

4. Withdrawing from favorite social organizations, church groups and hobbies

Did your parent recently stop doing something they love? Have they stopped visiting their friends? This is another red flag.

Why is this a sign? Like a decline in hygiene, this could be an indication of depression and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, it might also be as simple as they no longer feel comfortable driving to see their friends, or have fallen out of touch due to distance.

How can assisted living help? With regular events and activities, there are plenty of opportunities to make friends in assisted living communities. Your parent won’t be forced to participate, but they will have the option to socialize if they so choose.


Related: Ask the Expert: Delaying Assisted Living


Assisted Living: When It’s Time…

If more than one or two of these could be used to describe your parent’s current situation, your concerns about their safety might be warranted. It’s probably time to consider assisted living.

Some people view this as a negative, as if their parents lives will change for the worse. However, assisted living is likely the best place for them. There, they will have access to convenient services, nutritious, tasty meals and plenty of opportunities to socialize. In other words, assisted living will make their life—and yours—much easier and more convenient.

Next Steps

The best next step to take is to encourage your parent to schedule an appointment with their family physician or to allow you to do that for them. Together you can share your concerns with the doctor and ask for their advice.

If assisted living is recommended, it’s time for you and your parent to evaluate the options for assisted living communities. Read more about the process in this easy-to-follow guide to assisted living.

You’re also welcome to contact us if you need help understanding the senior care options that are available in the Columbus area. Our team will be happy to help answer your questions and connect you and your parent with the necessary resources.