Types of Post-Hospital Therapy for Seniors

lady making a sandwich for rehab

Dear Kelly,

About a week ago, my 74-year-old mom had a stroke. None of us were prepared for something like this, and now we’re scrambling to take care of her as best we can.

The stroke wasn’t a severe one and she’s doing well, but she is having some speech issues and difficulty balancing. Her doctor said she’ll need rehabilitation after her hospital stay and recommended that she complete physical, occupational and speech therapy.

What do all those entail? Do my brothers and I need to track down three different therapy places for Mom? Any chance you could help clear this up for us?


Dave Z.

Columbus, OH


Dear Dave,

I’m glad to hear that your mother’s stroke wasn’t severe, but it sounds like there’s some work to be done moving forward.

Toward that end, here’s what you should know about post-hospital rehab for senior patients and the types of therapy available.

Types of Therapy for Seniors After a Long Hospital Stay

If a senior patient needs a little help getting back on their feet after a stay in the hospital, their doctor may recommend that they seek therapy services (also known as rehabilitation).

There are different types of rehabilitation and therapies available, which is what you were asking about. Let’s go over those three therapy types you mentioned and what they include.

1. Physical Therapy for Seniors

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapy “can help restore older patients to their highest level of functioning possible.”

Note that it’s the highest “possible” level of function—depending on what was affected during your mother’s stroke, she may not be able to recover to her former level of physical health. However, physical therapy can help her reach her new optimal level.

Physical therapy may include therapeutic exercises such as practice walking aided or unaided, stretches or balance training. A physical therapist will work with your mom to discover where her problem areas are, then create a rehab plan based on their assessment.

2. Occupational Therapy for Seniors

If a senior suffers a health setback, it may be difficult for them to do the everyday things they used to do, like open bottom dresser drawers, get in and out of the bath, put laundry in the washer, cook on a stove and so on.

That’s where occupational therapy comes in. It’s designed to help improve your mom’s ability to live independently and focuses on bathing, dressing and grooming tasks.

As with physical therapy, it’s tailored to each patient’s needs. So if there’s a certain area your mother is struggling in, a professional therapist will be able to help her with it.

3. Speech Therapy for Seniors

It’s not uncommon for seniors who have suffered a stroke to struggle with speech. Speech therapy can help improve a person’s ability to communicate, as well as help with swallowing if that’s an issue.

Where to Find Therapy

Now, to answer your question about whether your mom will have to go to three different places to receive the three different types of therapy, it depends on the rehab facility you choose. It’s likely that the facility will offer all three, but it’s also possible that they won’t specialize in all of the areas your mother needs.

One senior rehab option available to people like your mother is a post-hospital rehab community. Post-hospital rehab communities provide different types of therapy for seniors, as well as a variety of services and amenities.

For example, all seven of our MacIntosh communities in and around Columbus, Ohio offer rehab services, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. Because every person who comes in the door is different from the last, each patient receives a personalized plan of care based on their personal goals and level of function.

As you begin your search, I recommend taking advantage of these free resources:

Ask the Expert: Post-Hospital Rehab Insurance Questions

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope your mom has a smooth recovery!


Kelly Braden, PT

Rehab Manager at West Park Rehabilitation Center