Improving Mental Health During a Post-Acute Care Stay

As our loved ones age, they may begin to experience health complications that can lead to hospitalization. Whether they require surgery, have suffered a serious injury, or experienced a medical emergency such as a fall or stroke, their doctor may recommend additional care at a post-acute care center.

While the intention of post-acute care is to serve as a transitional period to help a person regain their independence and recover successfully, it can be a challenging and painful rehabilitation process. Beyond the physical health implications, a person’s recovery journey may also have an impact on their mental health.

This is especially important to understand if they live with a cognitive health condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other form of memory loss. As they are processing this transition and big life change, they may be facing uncertainty, fear, loneliness, and depression which can severely impact their overall recovery and quality of life.

If your loved one has been hospitalized or requires rehabilitation care, it is important to understand the factors that may impact their mental health. This may include personal concerns about their health and reduced independence, side effects from their medications, fear of re-hospitalization, or feelings of isolation from being away from family. While many factors can take a toll on your loved one’s mental health, it is critical to recognize the warning signs to ensure they receive the support and care they need to continue their recovery. These warning signs may include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Sudden changes in emotions
  • Negative feelings and worry
  • Lack of motivation
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities

While post-acute care focuses on improving physical and cognitive independence, it is also crucial to consider the importance of your loved one’s mental well-being during their short-term stay. Each person has their own unique set of medical needs, consider the following approaches to improving not only your physical health, but also mental health.

Establish a Support System

During your rehabilitation at a post-acute care center, it is important to surround yourself with individuals who are committed to supporting you during your recovery journey. Whether they are family members, friends, mental health professionals, or care providers, establishing a positive environment with a strong support system is critical in improving a person’s mental well-being. In fact, research shows that an encouraging support team can help improve your loved one’s overall health and increase their motivation to achieve their goals.

It is important to consider staying involved in your loved one’s care plans and maintain regular communication to ensure they feel cared for during this challenging time in their life. Making it a priority to show your loved one encouragement and support throughout their recovery can help reduce their fear of re-hospitalization and provide emotional comfort.

At Prestige Care, our compassionate team members provide every resident with the support and encouragement they need to accomplish their rehabilitation goals. We work with residents and their loved ones to establish strong communication regarding their care plans and provide them with the resources they need to regain their motivation and independence.

Set Intentional Goals

Upon arriving at a skilled nursing center, your healthcare team will review your medical orders from your physician and meet with you to help develop your care program, ease your transition, and establish your recovery goals. It is important to consider setting intentional and realistic goals to help you maintain a positive rehabilitation journey. Establishing a list of attainable goals and working with your healthcare team to achieve them can provide a sense of purpose and improve your overall mental health.

During your post-acute care stay at Prestige, your care team will provide comprehensive evaluations to help track your recovery milestones and ensure you are progressing towards achieving your goals. Your clinical team will also work closely with your therapy and dietary teams to ensure your goals are appropriately tailored to your unique medical needs. Establishing clear, specific goals can increase your loved one’s engagement in their recovery process and give them a sense of direction and control over their health.

At Prestige, we understand the impact a hospitalization can have on a person’s mental wellbeing and are committed to working with each resident to help them achieve their goals, regain their confidence, and transition back to their everyday lives.

Practice Relaxation

Transitioning from a hospital to a post-acute care center can be a stressful process for many residents as they are navigating their recovery journey. Stress can contribute to various health conditions if it is not managed and can produce several harmful toxins that are released when a person is in an anxious state.

It is essential for residents to consider engaging in a variety of relaxation activities to help manage and reduce the uncertainty they may have regarding their recovery progress. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can help ease your mind and provide a sense of peace.

While these methods can help alleviate your stress levels, it is also important to engage in relaxing activities that involve your passions or hobbies. This might include assisting in the garden, listening to music, painting, or reading. These activities can help residents manage their anxiety, reduce their negative outlook, and promote overall emotional support.

Interact With Residents

As your loved one transitions to a skilled nursing center, they may begin having feelings of isolation and loneliness knowing they will be away from their family. In fact, studies have shown that more than 50% of residents suffer from loneliness during their short-term stay which can lead to a significant impact on their psychological and physical health.

During you or your loved one’s short-term care stay, it is important to prioritize making social connections to help reduce a negative state of mind. This can be accomplished through a variety of social activities offered at many post-acute care centers such as group therapy programs, community outings, or themed center activities.

Forming meaningful relationships with other residents who have shared similar experiences can help provide emotional support, increase their engagement, improve their cognitive function, reduce feelings of loneliness, and serve as motivation for an optimal recovery. Engaging and communicating with other residents can play a pivotal role in your overall recovery as it can provide a sense of fulfillment.

At Prestige, we understand the importance of maintaining an active social life to help our residents enhance their emotional wellbeing. Our care teams encourage social interaction and provide daily group activities and community outings for residents to participate in. We also offer family visiting hours to ensure residents can socialize and connect with their loved ones while they are recovering.

Participate in Therapy Programs

During your post-acute care stay, your individualized care plan may include a therapy program consisting of physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy. This level of rehabilitation care is intended to not only improve your physical health, but also enhance your mental wellbeing.

Your therapy team will work with you to develop a personalized therapy program consisting of exercises that promote physical movement and cognitive engagement. Exercising and engaging your mind can help release endorphins that improve your mood and reduce your risk of mental illness. You will also notice a self-esteem boost as your mobility and cognitive function begin to improve.

Many skilled nursing centers also offer creative forms of therapy such as art and music therapy. These activities are intended to increase relaxation, offer an outlet for creativity, and provide a sense of purpose.

While there are many benefits to participating in a therapy program during your rehabilitation, it is important to understand the positive impact it can have on your mental wellbeing. In addition to improving physical and cognitive function, participating in a post-acute therapy program can help enhance your mood, reduce depression and anxiety, improve confidence, reduce risk of mental health decline, and increase mental stimulation.

Improving Mental Health at Prestige

At Prestige Care, we understand that fostering an environment that supports both a person’s physical and mental health can positively impact their overall wellbeing and lead to a smoother, more optimal recovery. We also recognize the emotional challenges that can surface when a resident is recovering from a serious hospitalization and the effect it may have on their overall quality of life.

Our highly trained care teams are dedicated to helping your loved one take the steps they need to improve their mental wellbeing, enhance their quality of life, and reduce their risk of re-hospitalization. We provide a supportive, warm environment, help residents set clear goals, offer holistic techniques and education, and host a variety of group activities and therapy programs. Our goal is to not only ensure each resident achieves a successful recovery, but also to help set them up for continued success after their rehabilitation journey. Learn more about our skilled nursing care programs at www.prestigecare.com/skilled-nursing.