When your senior loved one is heading home from the hospital after surgery or an illness, you may find yourself with questions.

You probably want to know how long their recovery might take, what you can do for them if they’re healing at home, and when to bring in extra help.

Let’s dive in.

How long does it take the elderly to recover after a hospital stay?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long your senior loved one’s recovery will take. Healing depends on what they were hospitalized for, and the unfortunate reality is the hospital visit alone can have lasting consequences.

The truth is, it’s unrealistic to expect your senior loved one to return home from their hospital stay and bounce quickly back to their pre-visit health. It’s not uncommon for seniors discharged from the hospital to experience physical and mental fatigue for several weeks. But while ample recovery time should be expected, there are ways to both ease and speed up the process.

Plan how you will take care of yourself as well

Our first tip might surprise you, but hear us out.

Yes, this is like putting on your own oxygen mask first. Chronic caregiver burnout related to supporting your senior loved ones is high to begin with. When a hospital stay is involved, your risk of burnout is even higher. For everyone’s sake, before you begin planning how you’ll take care of your loved one, take stock of your own boundaries and capacities first.

Get clear on your senior loved one’s specific recovery needs

Post-hospital support needs can run from minor to major support.

Talk to your senior loved one’s team of doctors to understand what recovery might look like. Sometimes this can be simple as adjusting their home to accommodate their healing time, coordinating medication, and scheduling follow up doctor visits.

Rehab for your elderly after hospital stay: inpatient vs outpatient

More often than not, though, your senior loved one may require some level of rehab when they return from a hospital stay.

Outpatient rehabilitation can be a great choice for those who need support but also want to return home. In this case, you’ll want to organize transportation to and from their rehab facility as well as create a plan to help them reach therapy goals by practicing at home. If your senior loved one can’t be home alone yet, or outpatient therapy ends up feeling too difficult to maintain, it may be right to consider inpatient rehab.

Inpatient rehabilitation usually involves staying in a senior living community for short-term or long-term support. This is typically better suited for your senior loved ones who need intensive care after a hospital stay. Inpatient rehab also has the benefit of freeing family caregivers from the burden of transportation and coordination, so you have more space and energy to be there for your loved one, while trusting they are in good hands.

Get Your Free 1:1 Caregiving Support

We hope this article helps reduce any overwhelm about how to help your senior loved one heal after a hospital stay.

Would you like personal, customized help deciding how to take care of your senior loved after a hospital stay—completely free of charge?

Get compassionate and tailored caregiving support in one of these three easy ways.

Visit our support page and request your complimentary Caregiver Workbook.

Call our Caregiver Hotline for free custom support at 855-461-2552. We’re here to help.

Send us a message describing how we can support you. Choose whether you’d like us to reach out: text, email, or snail mail.

Again, there is no charge for these services. They’re simply an extension of our mission to help every family who calls.