What is the Average Length of Stay for Rehab?

senior lady in hospital bed with nurse by side

My husband had a heart attack a few weeks ago and will soon be discharged from the hospital. The cardiologist told us that it would be best for him to go to a skilled nursing and rehab center for a month or so of physical therapy.

The doctor was very vague about how long my husband would have to stay and how much of his stay would be covered by his Medicare. (We have traditional Medicare and not one of the insurance plans.)

Do you have any idea how long the average older adult stays in a rehab center before going home? My husband was very active before the heart attack and he is anxious to get back home and get busy again!



Average Length of Stay for Post-Acute Care Rehab

Dear Vickie:

We hear that question quite often!

According to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the average length of stay for inpatient rehab is 12.4 days, but this includes joint replacement, stroke, and other types of rehab. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer. How long it takes a patient to complete their therapy and return home depends on a variety of conditions.

In your husband’s case, those conditions include:

  • How bad the heart attack was and how much damage it caused
  • His overall level of fitness before the heart attack
  • How motivated he is to work on his therapy
  • What other health conditions he has that might make his recovery take a little longer (e.g., diabetes)

One advantage your husband has is that it sounds like he is highly motivated to return to his previous life! Patients who have a high level of personal motivation are more likely to fully participate in therapy. The outcome is usually better when patients give it their all.

Post-Hospital Rehabilitation


Once your husband is discharged from the hospital and admitted as a patient to Optalis, we will conduct an individual assessment of his condition. Based on that information, we will create a personal care plan that is likely to include diet, medication, physical rehabilitative therapy, and education.

You and your family can help us keep him motivated by celebrating milestones he reaches on his road to recovery. Frequent visits from family and friends also help encourage patients to keep working to meet their goals.

After he is discharged, his rehabilitation will continue. The support of family and friends will play a major role in preventing another heart attack.

Finally, I know one of the concerns you expressed was how much of his stay would be covered by Medicare. To help put your mind at ease, please know that the first 20 days of his rehab are covered in full. You can learn more about his coverage by reviewing How Much Does a Skilled Nursing & Rehab Facility Cost?