Keeping Your Parent in Rehab for the Holidays

nurse and resident smiling at each other

Dear Kim,

My dad is currently a patient at a rehab center in Columbus. He had a bad fall down some stairs that required extensive surgery. We know he will need to stay in rehab for several more months and likely continue with outpatient therapy.

With the holidays coming up, we’d like to bring him home at least for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We want dad to spend the holidays with my mom, the grandkids and his dog (he has really been missing his puppy!), but we aren’t sure if this is a good idea or not.

Do you have any advice for us? We aren’t sure what to do.

Kind Regards,


Should an Aging Parent Stay in Rehab During the Holidays?

Dear Donna,

Thank you for asking this! It provides us with an opportunity to answer a question that many families have this time of year.

While we certainly understand the desire to have your dad with you for the holidays, it usually isn’t a great idea. Here are a few things to consider before you make the decision:

  1. Will his health insurance provider allow him to leave the community and return? Medicare and private health insurance companies have strict rules for how long a patient can be away from their rehab center. In some cases, it can even result in the rehab stay not being paid for when he returns. So be sure to talk with the business office manager, social worker or other staff member to clarify his coverage.
  2. Your father’s rehab could also be set back if he leaves and doesn’t receive therapy for a day or two. This could prolong the amount of time it takes for him to get back on his feet and safely return home.
  3. Medication management can be another challenge for you. Depending upon what medications he receives, you may not be able to administer them at home.
  4. The holidays are a time of year when most of us struggle to maintain a healthy diet. For an older adult who is recovering from a serious health issue like your dad, sticking with a healthy diet and maintaining any special restrictions is one of the keys to successful rehab.
  5. Going home for the holidays might also present another risk: depression. When it is time to head back to the rehab center, it might make it for difficult for your dad to leave his home again. This can also slow his recovery.

What might be a better option is to bring Christmas to your dad. Family visitors, even four-legged ones, are welcome at many rehab centers and always at MacIntosh! Our staff can even help arrange a private space for you to use for your party.

I hope this helps, Donna! Please let me know if you have more questions.

Kim Prenger