An Overview of Senior Rehabilitation Centers

Recovering from injury or illness in your golden years may take time and support. That’s where senior rehabilitation centers become essential.

If you need a temporary stay to recover from injury or illness, senior rehabilitation centers can be the solution to get expert care and daily support. Let’s give an overview of what senior rehab is and how you can pay for it. 

What is a senior rehabilitation center?

This type of center is designed for short-term patients to recover after surgery or a hospital stay. A senior rehabilitation center provides skilled nursing care, including therapy and other treatments. The overall goal is for patients to return to their pre-injury ability and strength.

What types of care does a senior rehabilitation center provide?

There are several types of care that a senior rehabilitation center may provide. Most commonly, patients receive therapy care that includes exercises to build strength and mobility, while reducing pain. 

In particular, you or your loved one may need:

  • Physical therapy: This therapy works on motor skills. Its aim is to improve physical strength and mobility, especially for basic tasks such as walking and bending down. 
  • Speech therapy: Usually needed after a stroke, speech therapy works to recover communication through vocal exercises. 
  • Respiratory therapy: This therapy focuses on improving breathing and swallowing to recover normal respiratory functions. 
  • Occupational therapy: Relearning everyday activities is essential after injury or illness. Occupational therapy works to get back daily tasks such as holding a fork or using the stairs.
  • Stage IV wound care: Extensive tissue loss can be part of rehab care. During wound care, the patient receives treatments to heal the wound. 
  • Pain management: Overall, senior rehabilitation also involves pain management. Depending on the patient’s pain level, skilled nurses can administer solutions. 

In addition to these specific therapies and treatments, your loved one may also need more general care. The following types of care may not require a skilled nurse or therapist, but rather a health aide. 

  • Custodial care: Assistance with personal care tasks, such as feeding, bathing, toileting.
  • Ongoing sub-acute care: Aid during chronic conditions to ease pain and foster comfort. 
  • Medication management: Reminders and help with taking daily medications, as well as raising issues with any medications. 
  • Support services: These services may include meals, transportation, etc. Anything that may help the transition between hospital and home. 
  • Social activities and programs: Some centers have enrichment programs to connect seniors, as well as provide religious services. 

What conditions are commonly treated at senior rehabilitation centers?

The type of patients in these centers may vary. Some common conditions treated in rehab centers include:

  • Fracture or broken hip
  • Aneurysm
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke or brain injury
  • Heart attack
  • Arthritis or osteoporosis
  • Tumor/cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Amputation
  • Pneumonia

Of course, these aren’t the only conditions treated. As you look for the right care facility for your loved one, be sure to get recommendations according to the treatment needed. 

What are the benefits of senior rehabilitation centers? 

Senior rehabilitation centers are the best way to make sure your loved one gets back on their feet after a life-altering health event. One of the top benefits is that they offer 24-hour nursing services, so there’s minimal risk of regression or re-injury. 

In addition, this type of care offers the emotional support that many patients need as they recover. Some even find social connections during therapy programs or by sharing living quarters. 

What’s the difference between short-term and long-term rehabilitation for seniors?

Senior rehabilitation centers are typically for short-term stays that may range from a few days to a few months. The idea is to provide recovery so that seniors can return to their usual living arrangements and daily routines. 

However, there may be some cases where rehabilitation takes longer. In particular, this happens for chronic conditions in which seniors may not achieve full recovery. For chronic or debilitating conditions, rehabilitation may become a more long-term situation. 

How does a senior rehabilitation center compare to assisted living?

Senior rehabilitation centers and assisted living centers have different goals. Rehab centers are typically temporary stays to recover from injury or illness, while assisted living is a long-term solution to getting daily personal care. 

In the case of assisted living, the patient doesn’t usually have underlying medical conditions but rather needs assistance with daily tasks such as bathing or getting into bed. It’s also a permanent living arrangement. 

What is the experience of a senior rehabilitation center like?

Recovery isn’t always an easy process. Senior rehabilitation centers aim to make the smooth transition between hospital and home. By providing skilled care and support, they’re designed to get patients back to their pre-injury level as soon as possible. Overall, patients at rehab centers feel highly supported by the care they receive. 

Should I be worried about COVID and senior rehabilitation centers?

COVID is a concern for all group care centers. It’s important to ask your specific senior rehabilitation center about their COVID protocols. In general, this involves mandatory face masks, as well as social distancing. There may also be visitation restrictions in order to protect patients. 

In addition to COVID protocols, there are also some requirement changes for entering a senior rehabilitation center. If your loved one needs skilled nursing or therapy during the COVID pandemic, and they’re unable to stay home, they may qualify for Medicare coverage of senior rehab without needing a prior hospital stay. 

How much does a senior rehabilitation center cost?  

Because a senior rehabilitation center requires skilled nursing care, it can be costly. Overall, the average cost runs between $245-$275 a day. 

The good news is that patients who meet these requirements will receive up to 20 days 100% recovered by Medicare. To get this coverage, patients must:

  • Have been admitted to the hospital for a minimum of three days.
  • Have been admitted to a senior rehabilitation center within 30 days of this hospital stay. 
  • Require skilled nursing care, including therapy and treatment. 

If you meet these conditions, you can get 20 days of full coverage. Here’s the full timeline of Medicare coverage for senior rehabilitation centers:

  • Days 1-20: Medicare covers 100% of costs. 
  • Days 21-100: Medicare covers some costs, with a daily co-pay. (The 2020 average was $176 a day.)
  • Days 101+: Medicare provides no coverage. Patients are responsible for the full cost. 

How can I pay for a senior rehabilitation center? 

If you qualify for Medicare, you can get the first 20 days fully covered and the first 100 days partially covered. However, if you need more than 100 days, or you don’t qualify for Medicare, there are a few other options. 

  • Medicaid: Medicaid generally pays for skilled nursing care. A hospital stay is typically required to get full coverage. 
  • Private insurance: Your private insurance may also cover skilled nursing at a senior rehabilitation center. In particular, you may be able to get coverage paid by private insurance after day 20. Check with your provider for more details. 
  • Veteran’s benefits: Veterans may also be covered for skilled care at a rehab center. It’s essential to contact a benefits specialist to understand coverage details. 
  • Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance may also pay for skilled nursing. Of course, coverage will depend on your provider. 
  • Life insurance: Sometimes life insurance can be paid out early to cover senior living costs. This may be a good option if rehabilitation takes longer than expected. 

Why should I choose a senior rehabilitation center?

A senior rehabilitation center is often prescribed by a doctor in order to recover after injury or illness. It’s an excellent choice to support your loved one during the recovery process. Patients get care from skilled nurses and therapists, as well as receive support care and programs. 

How can I find the right senior rehabilitation center?

Finding the right senior rehabilitation center can be a challenge. You can start your search on My Caring Plan. Select rehabilitation from the drop-down to get a list of centers and resources. You can also get more information about top rehabilitation centers. As you narrow down your search, you should also contact the centers to get more information about their care packages and mission.

Even though rehabilitation is typically short-term, it’s key to get it right for the well-being of your loved one.


  1. Eldercare Locator, Administration on Aging,

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