jeremy evans rehab expertDear Jeremy:

My Dad is in the hospital recovering from a serious bout with pneumonia. It’s left him pretty weak and unsteady on his feet. His physician wants him to go to an inpatient rehab center for a few weeks of therapy. Dad thinks he can just get by with outpatient rehab because a friend of his recently went to an outpatient center after surgery on his wrist.

Can you help me understand the differences? I would really be concerned about how safe my Dad is going home at this point.


Dear Jason:

It does sound like your father would be a good candidate for inpatient rehab. Pneumonia can really take a toll on older adults, especially those who already live with chronic health conditions. It is definitely different than recovering from wrist surgery!

Outpatient Vs Inpatient Rehab

Here are just a few of the differences between these two types of rehab and the benefits you should be aware of:

  • It sounds like safety is one of your worries. If your father goes to an inpatient rehab center, there will be experienced healthcare professionals on hand around the clock. No worries about him falling and not being able to call for help.
  • The therapy team at an inpatient rehab center will be able to work with your dad throughout the day. He can rest in between therapy sessions or join in scheduled activities that are taking place in the center.
  • If your dad chooses outpatient therapy and goes directly home from the hospital, you will have the worry about how to safely transport him to and from his therapy appointments. These trips can be taxing for both the patient and their family.
  • While your dad is at an inpatient rehab center, his meals and other needs will be taken care of for him. Unlike at home where you and your father will have to find ways to safely accomplish those tasks.
  • As an outpatient rehab patient, your father will typically be given “homework” to do on his own. The exercises can be an important part of his recovery, but not all seniors comply with the recommendations from their therapy team when left to complete them on their own.

What is increasingly common is for an older adult to transition from the hospital to a skilled nursing center for a few weeks. Once they are safely on the road to recovery, they can then be discharged home with an order to continue their therapy at an outpatient rehab center. By that time, they are usually stronger and better prepared for living on their own and making their way to and from rehab.

I hope that helps, Jason! Best of luck to your father as he begins his recovery.

Get any other questions you may have answered today by giving me a call, personally, at 614.855.8866.

Jeremy Evans, Director of Rehabilitation

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