Thursday, December 1, 2016

Have Questions? Just ask Edie!

Edie Belue, Director of Social Services and Admission at Limestone Health Facility, loves to get questions from local folks like you who want help with the difficult decisions concerning long-term care or short-term rehabilitation. Check out our blog weekly to learn more about how Senior Rehab at Limestone Health Facility can provide the therapy, nursing care and assistance you need for yourself or your loved one.

December 1, 2016

Rehabilitation Centers for Elderly Stroke Victims 

Stroke is all-too-common in elderly people and the population in general. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Stroke Association. 

For stroke survivors and their families, a good rehabilitation program is key to recovery. When an elderly person has a stroke, the amount of rehabilitation and the success of that rehabilitation depends on:
• Amount of damage to the brain
• Skill on the part of the rehabilitation team
• Cooperation of caregivers, family and friends.
• Timing of rehabilitation – the earlier it begins the more likely survivors are to regain lost abilities and skills

Depending on the severity of the stroke, elderly survivors’ lives and their ability to perform daily function can vary greatly. Because stroke survivors often have complex rehabilitation needs, progress and recovery are unique for each person. 

Types of rehabilitation programs

There are several different types of programs and facilities that treat elderly stroke patients:
   • Hospital programs in an acute care facility or a rehabilitation hospital
   • Long-term care facility with therapy and skilled nursing care
   • Outpatient programs
   • Home-based programs
   • Rehabilitation Specialists

What Rehabilitation Specialists Treat Elders Who’ve Had Strokes?

The types of specialists who treat elderly stroke patients include:

Physicians: physiatrists (specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation), neurologists, internists, geriatricians (specialists in the elderly), family practice

Rehabilitation nurses: specialize in nursing care for people with disabilities

Physical therapists: help to restore physical functioning by evaluating and treating problems with movement, balance, and coordination

Occupational therapists: provide exercises and practice to help patient perform activities of daily living.

Speech-language pathologists: to help improve language skills

Social workers: assist with financial decisions and plan the return to the home or a new living place

Psychologists: concerned with the mental and emotional health of patients

Therapeutic recreation specialists: help patients return to activities they enjoyed before the stroke.

The treatment that the elderly stroke patient receives depends on the effects of the stroke on the elder. Effects of a stroke include:

• Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body that may affect the whole side or just the arm or leg. 
• The weakness or paralysis is on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain affected by the stroke.
• Spasticity, stiffness in muscles, painful muscle spasms
• Problems with balance and coordination
• Problems using language, including having difficulty understanding speech or writing and knowing the right words but having trouble saying them clearly
• Being unaware of or ignoring sensations on one side of the body (bodily neglect or inattention)
• Pain, numbness or odd sensations
• Problems with memory, thinking, attention or learning
• Being unaware of the effects of a stroke
• Trouble swallowing
• Problems with bowel or bladder control
• Fatigue
• Difficulty controlling emotions
• Depression
• Difficulties with daily tasks

Although a majority of functional abilities may be restored soon after a stroke, recovery is an ongoing process. The goal of rehabilitation is to enable a senior who has experienced a stroke to reach the highest possible level of independence and be as productive as possible. Limestone Health Facility specializes in helping stroke victims recover and has individualized treatment programs available  specifically for stroke patients. Call Edie Belue to set up an appointment today at 256-232-3461. 

November 1, 2016
The Difference Between Physical, Speech and Occupational Therapy

By understanding the rehabilitation services we have to offer, you can make well-informed choices.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy (sometimes called PT) can help enhance mobility and quality of life by improving strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and posture. Physical therapy can maximize your loved one’s ability to get around at home and community, as well as participate in favorite recreational activities. 

Where can I get physical therapy, and what happens during the sessions?

Physical therapy services are available in multiple settings including the hospital, rehabilitation center, nursing home, outpatient clinic, adult medical day care, and at home. The goal of physical therapy in these settings is typically to improve function so that the patient is safe to return home with assistance. Your loved one may perform exercises lying down in bed or on a padded mat table to improve ability to get in and out of bed. Doing exercises with weights while sitting increases one’s strength and ability to get out of a chair, while exercises with weights while standing improve strength, balance and ability to walk. Very often “parallel bars” are available to provide support for both hands as the patient practices walking.

Physical therapy often includes a variety of exercise equipment and machines to improve strength and balance. You may see stationary bicycles, treadmills, arm bikes as well as machines like the leg press. Don’t worry – the physical therapist will explain exactly how to use the machines properly and safely at the appropriate amount of weight and resistance for your relative.

What is Speech Language Pathology?

Speech-language pathology services (SLP) boost a person’s ability to communicate and to swallow.

In our society, it’s a common comfort to sit down and have a great conversation with family and friends over a great meal. That requires two essential skills: the ability to eat and swallow safely, and the ability to communicate. Both are absolutely critical to a good overall quality of life. Nearly all activities of daily life require us to communicate, interact, and process information. Communication skills are necessary not only to convey wants and needs, but to socialize and connect with others.

What conditions can benefit from Speech-language pathology?

SLP addresses the declines associated with the aging process, such as neurological difficulties, age-related illness, and deterioration of the swallowing mechanism.

SLP may be able to help your loved one with declines due to brain injury, stroke, cancer, infection, or physical abnormality. It’s used to treat breathing problems due to lung diseases or tracheotomy.
Speech therapists also provide treatment of cognitive-linguistic impairments. This treatment focuses on restoring memory, sequencing, problem solving, safety awareness, attention, and their effects on the function of ADLs. Exercises may include breaking down a complicated task, like making a grocery list, to small simple steps. In this case, the steps include identifying what items you need (problem solving), finding a pen and paper, remembering the words for the items you want (memory), and writing the list (communication).

Does your loved one have trouble speaking, articulating words, or using expressive language? SLP can help in these instances, too, for conditions such as dysarthria or apraxia (motor speech disorders); hoarse or harsh vocal quality; complete or partial loss of voice; or aphasia (a language disorder).
Your parent may be taught specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the face, mouth and throat such as blowing out, sipping in through a straw and making specific sounds like “pa” and “ma”.

Finally, speech-language pathology plays a critical role in the treatment of dysphagia, or swallowing disorder. The treatment of dysphagia is essential in maintaining healthy lungs and avoiding pneumonia. Beyond that, a therapist may be able to help your loved one enjoy a less restrictive diet with a wider variety of foods.

PT, OT, and SLP are typically available to patients via a referral from their physicians. At Senior Rehab and Recovery Center, we have seen all three of these therapies restore and rehabilitate the lives of thousands of seniors. If you believe your loved one might benefit from PT, OT or SLP, I encourage you to research practitioners in your area and talk with your family doctor. In a few months, you may see your loved one recover abilities once believed to be gone, and rejuvenate in a way you might never have thought possible.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy (also known as OT) focuses on your ability to fulfill your “occupations.” So for your parent, the roles could include mother, spouse, homemaker, grandparent, caregiver, or bridge player. Generally, OT assists with the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as getting dressed, toileting and bathing as well as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) such as driving, shopping, cooking and recreational activities.

What happens during occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy services are available in many of the same settings as physical therapy. The goal of OT in a hospital, rehab hospital or long-term care facility is often to improve function so that your loved one is safe to return home with assistance.

Treatment sessions, either in the hospital room or therapy gym, may focus on your parent’s posture and use of her arms to improve her ability to eat, dress, bathe and perform other ADLs. Exercises may include stretching and strengthening to make sure she has enough flexibility and strength to perform ADLs. A large part of OT is practicing, developing new strategies and using adaptive equipment to perform activities such as eating, dressing and bathing.

OT in an outpatient facility is usually for injuries to the hand or arm to maximize function in ADLs, IADLs and recreational activities. Patients may use the arm bike, arm exercises with weights, or special “silly putty” to improve hand strength and dexterity.

OT in the home offers the same benefits as PT at home. The goal is to maximize your parent’s function in his home and community to improve his quality of life. OT at home can include training in doing laundry, light meal preparation, grocery shopping or driving.

October 1, 2016
Does My Elderly Parent Need In-Patient Rehabilitation?

When a family member suffers a serious fall, injury or medical trauma, they may need to live at a rehabilitation center for a period of time to fully recover.

Inpatient rehabilitation in a residential setting, like Senior Rehab at Limestone Health Facility, may be the perfect solution to a quicker and fuller recovery. Centers like Senior Rehab provide around-the-clock treatment and supervision which is critical to avoiding falls and further injuries that can impede recovery. The patient's progress is continuously monitored, and in many cases, inpatient treatment programs offer a better chance of successful rehabilitation. The goal is to help the patient return to his/her maximum functional potential after suffering a life-altering event.

The types of conditions that are best treated in an in-patient setting like Senior Rehab include:

             • Fracture or broken hip
             • Joint injury or replacement
             • Aneurysm
             • Parkinson’s Disease
             • Neurological conditions
             • Stroke
             • Arthritis of the spine and other joints
             • Brain injury
             • Tumor/Cancer
             • Multiple Sclerosis
             • Nerve impingement
             • Amputation
             • Recovery after surgery

Senior Rehab at Limestone Health Facility's staff of skilled professionals includes a rehab physician, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, rehab nurses and a social worker. Together they design individualized treatment plans for patients ranging from re-gaining communication skills, improving mobility, strength and muscle function (for using wheelchairs and walkers), to carrying out daily activities such as bathing and dressing. Nutritional concerns are addressed as well, so that when a patient leaves Senior Rehab, they are on track to better care for themselves and their diet at home. Trained staff are available to provide educational and emotional support too, which helps patients cope with the sudden changes that illness or injury can bring.

Treatments are broken down into three main categories:
• Physical Therapy (PT)
• Occupational Therapy (OT)
• Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)

At the Senior Rehab Center, patients typically have a very structured day. Part of the day is devoted to follow-up medical care which is designed to address ongoing physical issues, and part of the day involves physical and occupational therapy to help the patient build up strength and skills. But rehabilitation isn't all work, it's play too. Senior Rehab patients are encouraged to participate in stimulating activity through a busy calendar. Scheduled social programs are geared toward duplicating the strengths and skills seniors need to develop for quality of life in an independent setting.

Morning coffees, afternoon teas and ice cream socials bring patients and their guests together for refreshing interaction. Family members and others involved in their support system are welcome to join in social programs and daily living activities at the center.

September 1, 2016
Choosing a Transitional Rehab Facility 
If your elderly loved one needs transitional rehabilitative care, here are some questions you should ask before choosing a facility.

Does the facility specialize in rehabilitation? 
The rehabilitation facility you choose should have specialists including physicians, nurses, physical, occupational, and speech therapists; recreational therapists, and case managers. All of these specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for your loved one.

What percentage of patients are sent home after receiving care? 
How many transition to longterm care or nursing home care? Is that available at the same rehab facility? 

Try to determine if the rehabilitation facility will be able to return your elderly parent or loved one to the highest level of function possible. One indicator of effective rehabilitation is how successful a center is in returning patients to their home. Of course, this isn’t always possible, depending on your parent’s condition or health problem.

What are the staff’s qualifications? 
The facility you choose should be accredited by The Joint Commission (formerly the JCAHO) or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Ask about the qualifications of the nurse aids who will be doing the day-to-day care of patients. Has the facility had any issues with patient abuse or neglect? Does the facility do background screening of their employees? What is the turnover rate of their nursing staff?

Is there a “continuum of care?” 
The rehabilitation process does not end with his or her stay in a rehab facility. Patients require varying levels of care before and after their inpatient stay. Some therapies your parent may need include outpatient therapy at a rehab facility, in-home physical therapy, or long-term inpatient care.

Is the facility experienced in treating your parent’s condition? 
Did your loved one have a hip replacement, brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke or orthopedic procedure? Make sure the staff is experienced in the condition your loved one has. Specialists are more sensitive to the patient’s needs, have the right experience and will provide more creative treatments—all of which lead to a stronger recovery.

What is the average length of stay? 
Based on your parent’s condition, how long, on average, have other patients stayed in the rehab facility? What about people with the same condition as your parent?

How many hours of therapy a day will there be? 
Your loved one is in rehab, to be rehabilitated. Lying in bed for hours at a time will not help them recover. Research how many hours of therapy are needed per day, based on your parent’s condition. Then, make sure this number matches the amount of therapy the facility provides.

What should your parent bring? 
What items—such as toiletries, hearing aids, clothing, and money—are allowed at the facility? Are personal items such as personal furniture, favorite photographs, memorabilia allowed?

How can family members get involved? 
Are family conferences offered to keep family members informed of the patient’s progress? What are visiting hours, and how long can family members stay? Can they eat with their loved ones?

If you'd like to talk about your particular situation, please call Edie Belue at 256-232-3461 and she'll be happy to answer your questions or concerns. 

AUGUST 1, 2016


Our professional staff has been highly trained to provide compassionate care for the unique needs of our long term residents or short-term rehab patients right here in Athens. We provide emotional and therapeutic activities to maintain or improve the abilities of each resident in a loving, home-like environment.


• 24-hour skilled Nursing Care        • Respiratory/Pulmonary care

• Coord. of Physician Services        • Cardiac Rehabilitation

• Post-hospital/ Post-Surgical Care  • Diabetic care/education

• PT, OT and Speech Therapy          • Pain Management

• Post Stroke Care                            • Wound Care

• Social Services                              • Dietary Services

• Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and private pay accepted

Call me today 256-232-3461 to find out how we can help you or your loved one. 

JUNE 1, 2016

Dear Edie,
My father is scheduled to have a hip replacement in a few weeks.  His doctor tells us that he will definitely need some inpatient rehabilitation before he can return home.  While we want to follow his doctor’s orders, we have to know if this is something that Dad can afford.  He has Medicare and maybe some kind of insurance supplement but I don’t know if that helps or what!  Is there any way we can find out about this so we can help Dad decide what he wants to do? He is really getting stressed out about the money matters….which does nothing to help him physically, of course.  Any advice?
                                                                           Stressed Out Dad and Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Don’t stress out!  We will be glad to discuss the financial planning with you prior to your father’s surgery.  Senior Health and Rehab at Limestone Health Facility accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurances and private payment. Our financial planner will be happy to talk to you about your father’s particular insurances and financial responsibility so that you can make a fully-informed decision about his care.  We understand that this can be a point of great concern. Just give me a call at 256-232-3461 or drop me an e-mail @ and let us put your worries aside.
                                                                                                 Sincerely, Edie

MAY 1, 2016

Dear Edie,
I am having back surgery soon.  My doctor wants me to rehabilitate for a while before going home especially since I live alone.  I know that you all have all sorts of specialized equipment like hospital beds, walkers, etc. that I can use there… but what about when I go back home?  Will your staff be able to make recommendations about things that will be necessary or helpful to me after my rehab? If so, then how do I go about getting those items since I will be there? I know I may be thinking too far ahead but I am an independent person and am hoping to stay that way!

                                                        Independent Man

Dear Independent,
Always a good idea to be thinking ahead!  You are right in the fact that we do provide for your equipment needs while you are at Senior Health and Rehab at Limestone Health Facility.  We also help you plan for those specific needs that you might have once you are ready to leave our facility.  We will meet with you once you have been here for a couple of weeks to discuss your progress at that time.  We will also start planning prior to your impending discharge for any needs and services that will be helpful to you at home.  If you need certain equipment we can get that ordered, delivered and set up so it will be there when you need it!  We will also take care of setting up services for any continued health care or therapy that you may qualify for at your home or at an outpatient facility after your stay with us.
                                                                                                 Sincerely, Edie

APRIL 1, 2016

Dear Edie,

My parents have always worked hard and saved for their retirement years.  But now Dad is having his knee replaced, and his doctor said that he really needs to plan on going somewhere for in-patient therapy.  I am concerned that the cost of this therapy will leave them without enough money to live on.  How can they afford to pay for the care he needs?
                                                                                          Concerned Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Put your concerns aside!  Senior Rehab and Recovery at Limestone Health Facility accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and private payment.  If your dad has Medicare, as most seniors do, this may help cover the cost of up to 100 days of in-patient rehab at our facility.  Days 1 through 20 are covered at 100% while there is a co-pay for days 21 through 100.  Medicare criteria must be met in order for the stay to be covered.  The initial requirement being that your dad starts his therapy within 30 days of an in-patient hospital stay of at least 72 hours.  We understand that all of this may sound a bit complicated but that’s what we are here for.  Why don’t you give me a call so we can discuss the specifics of your dad’s situation?  My number is 256-232-3461 or if you prefer, you can e-mail me at .  I look forward to hearing from you!  Edie

Dear Edie, 

My Dad is facing some upcoming surgery.  We really don’t feel like he is in need of long term placement in a nursing home but we know he will need some extra care following the surgery.  We are also interested in a therapy program that might help him return to independent living.  Does Limestone Health Facility offer any of these options for him?                                                                         Searching for the Proper Place

Dear Searching,

Your search is over!!! Long-term nursing care is not the only option for older adults anymore.  Here at Limestone Health Facility, we have the Senior Rehab and Recovery Center that specializes in short-term care.  Senior Rehab is dedicated to helping people, like your Dad, return to an active and independent lifestyle.

Senior Rehab patients participate in a focused course of inpatient therapy for a few weeks or longer, according to their doctor’s recommendations. Every day in Senior Rehab, therapists, nursing, dietary, social service and activities staff work with our patients to develop the strength and skills required for the demands of daily living. In addition to therapy sessions, we have lots of social activities to help our patients practice their skills and regain their strength. Our rehab patients share the desire to return to their homes and communities as soon as possible……OUR goal is to help them along the way!  Please feel free to call me at 256-232-3461 if I can assist you in the care of your dad.   Edie

MARCH 15, 2016

Dear Edie,

My husband was recently at Senior Rehab and Recovery at Limestone Health Facility following a stroke.  He received physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy for 20 days.  He did so well there that we decided to take him home last week.  Now that he is home we realize that he needs more care than we can provide right now.  As a family, we believe that he might possibly benefit from some further treatment with your therapy department.  Is there any way that he could readmit to the facility for additional therapy?  How will we pay for this?

                                                                                               Caring Wife

Dear Caring,

We will be glad for him to return for continued therapy!  If it has been less than 30 days since his discharge from our facility then he can return and resume therapy using the remainder of his Medicare days.  Medicare pays for a maximum of 100 days of rehab if he meets the Medicare criteria.  Days 1 through 20 are covered at 100%; there is a co-pay required for days 21 through100.  We will be happy to discuss the possibility of readmitting your husband to our facility.  Just give me a call @ 256-232-3461.    Edie

Dear Edie,

My grandmother is in the hospital in another state!  She has a fractured hip and her doctor has told me there is no way she can return to her home alone.  She has no family there to assist with her care. I know nothing about rehab facilities there.  I have to work and really need for Grandmother to be here so that I can be more involved with her care!  Is there any way that she might be transferred to Senior Rehab and Recovery at Limestone Health Facility for her therapy?

                                                                                  Out-of-State Grandson

Dear Grandson,

We will certainly be glad to work with you and your grandmother’s physician and hospital to have her transferred to our facility when she is ready to discharge from the hospital.  The hospital discharge planner is welcome to fax referral information directly to me at (256) 232-3061.  They can also call me to discuss your Mom’s needs at (256) 232-3461.      Edie

FEBRUARY 15, 2016

Dear Edie,

I recently had surgery on my shoulder. When I was in the hospital, my doctor encouraged me to admit to a rehab facility directly from the hospital but I thought I could manage at home. I have quickly realized, after being home for a few days that I need more help than I thought. I am just not springing back like I used to.  Is it too late for me to admit to the Senior Rehab and Recovery Center at Limestone Health Facility for some therapy? 

                                                                                                         Wishing I Had Listened!

Dear Wishing,

Good News!!!  It is likely NOT too late for you to be admitted to the Senior Rehab and Recovery Center at Limestone Health Facility.  If you were in the hospital for at least 72 continuous hours within the past 30 days then you may still qualify for a Medicare-covered stay at our facility even though you have been out of the hospital for a few days!!!  Please feel free to give me a call at (256) 232-3461 to discuss the specifics! I look forward to hearing from you!             Edie

Dear Edie, 

I had knee replacement surgery on my left knee a while back.  I came to the Senior Rehab and Recovery Center at Limestone Health Facility for short term care following my discharge from the hospital.  I received excellent therapy and nursing care while there. It was such a positive experience that I visited my physician today to discuss having my right knee replaced!  Will Medicare cover more than one stay for therapy in your facility?

                                                                                                        Ready for Round Two

Dear Ready,

It sure will!  There are some requirements that are involved which include that you must have been discharged from the facility for at least 60 days and have not had any admissions to any other hospital or rehab facility during those 60 days to qualify for another Medicare-covered rehab stay.  I am so happy to hear that your previous experience with us was so positive and you have done so well after returning to your home.  Please call me to set up an appointment to discuss your next stay with us.  We look forward to serving you again.        Edie