EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 29, 2013

Wife wants to protect husband from falls

:Q: My husband has been in a rehabilitation facility for several weeks after being injured in a fall. We have been told he is going to be discharged back home very shortly. I am worried because he still is not very steady on his feet and I don’t know what will happen when he leaves the facility. Is there anything in the community that would be able to assist with his continued rehab?

A: Apparently your husband no longer meets the criteria for intense rehabilitation services through his Medicare benefit. First it would be advisable to get a clarification as to why he is being discharged. Ask if the therapist believes he has hit a plateau and does not have the ability for further improvement or do they think he is strong enough to return home with services provided through another source?

Actually there are several options to consider that would provide further assistance for your husband. Along with a physician’s order the discharge planner may be making a referral to a Medicare certified home health agency for physical and occupational services in the home. The intensity of therapy will not be the same but it will provide services for a period of time to attempt to support your husband in regaining strength and balance. Another possibility would be a referral to an out-patient rehabilitation facility. Medical personnel will be discussing what is in your husband’s best interest. Therapist may also make recommendations regarding equipment that would be useful in the home for your husband to use on his own.

Community based fall prevention programs are also an excellent opportunity for your husband. The programs are conducted by highly trained and certified individuals who follow a curriculum teaching individuals how to prevent future falls and exercises to increase stability. It is also extremely important for both your husband and yourself to take stock of your home to make any changes in the environment to reduce the risk of falls. To find a program nearby call 1-800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? we encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to ro@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc.

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