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The need for SNFS for baby boomers

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Mary Fran Thaler
Mary Fran Thaler

As we grow older, our focus on how to achieve and maintain our health becomes more acute. Healthy aging is achievable if action is taken sooner rather than later. Over the last few decades, we have seen major changes in our healthcare delivery system. One of those changes is the expansion of rehabilitation services delivery within the skilled nursing facility, long-term care environment. This expansion was, in part, fueled by the increased use of nursing facility services by members of the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers expect to remain independent, self-sufficient and living in the community well into their ninth decade. Rehabilitation services are focused on helping baby boomers achieve these goals.

Current estimates are that 37% of all acute hospitalizations require post-acute care services. When certain specialized health services and follow-up care are needed, there are a variety of different settings where these services can be received. These services are described collectively as post-acute care.  A skilled nursing facility is one of the settings where post-acute care can be received. 

Skilled nursing facilities have seen a tremendous growth in short term rehabilitation admissions due to the growing demand by baby boomers. Nursing facilities are no longer just a destination but rather a stage in the recovery process. No matter if a person is recovering from a stroke, fracture or a prolonged hospitalization, the skilled interventions provided by the care team of physicians, nurses and therapists assists in the recovery process through high quality and compassionate care. Care team members incorporate new technology, in addition to standard medical and rehabilitation approaches, to maximize treatment outcomes in order to reach the highest level of recovery in the shortest period of time. 

Rehabilitation therapists can assist residents in understanding the physical changes related to health conditions. By anticipating what the future may hold based on one's medical condition, a rehabilitation therapist can assist the resident in compensating for these changes. A customized exercise program is designed to promote strength, endurance and function. For example, if someone has experienced a stroke, the therapist educates him or her on the after-effects of the stroke. Suggestions may include a knee brace, or adaptive feeding devices.  Each rehabilitation plan of care should be based on the individual's specific needs and personal goals. 

The rehabilitation therapist can assist a resident in regaining and maintaining these skills by designing an exercise and activity program individualized to you. Through continued exercise and activity, the resident should be encouraged to take a proactive approach to maintaining or improving your health, no matter what the age.

For a person who has been recently hospitalized and needs some time to recover, a short term stay in a post-acute service is recommended. Often, after a hospital stay, one's ability to move around is limited.  The resident may experience pain and discomfort when trying to complete activities of daily living.  The hospital may suggest a brief stay in a sub-acute program. 

This is one of the reasons for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale's Post-Acute Servics, where therapy is designed around specific goals.

Mary Fran Thaler is the Vice President of Administration at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale and a licensed physical therapist.

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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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