Category: Healthcare

Maintenance Therapy – The Best Kept Secret in Senior Care!


By Above & Beyond Senior Services

mainttherapy1Have you ever needed physical or occupational therapy (PT/OT)? Conditions that cause decreased strength, range of motion, balance deficits, difficulty with walking and memory issues are leading reasons seniors might need therapy. Most therapy is based on a model that requires patients to meet certain qualifying criteria. Typically, a person must demonstrate measurable, skilled progress or the therapy provider is required to discharge. Over the course of the last decade, a new option for wellness and exercise has become increasingly available to Minnesota seniors!

Maintenance therapy is the same PT/OT that you are familiar with, but with a few differences:

• Starts after traditional therapy ends.
• Has no requirements for frequency or duration of service.
• Can continue on a long-term basis.
• Comes into the home, while allowing freedom to be active throughout the community.

Let’s meet Mary:

mainttherapy2Mary had a massive stroke at 68. She was left with an inability to walk, difficulty with speaking, and decreased movement on the left side of her body. After completing rehabilitation in the hospital, then a care facility, she was able to return home with her husband, Ed. She also qualified for Medicare home therapy. When Mary was no longer considered homebound, she transitioned to an outpatient clinic. Mary was very motivated to get better, but this proved more difficult than imagined. It was hard to be disciplined in completing the home exercises her therapists assigned. Ed began to notice declines, despite Mary going for therapy twice a week. They were disappointed in her regression. It was time for a change. She wanted home therapy that focused on the tasks and activities that were important to her and allowed them to be in control of her rehab. Thanks to a recommendation from a trusted health care worker, Ed inquired about direct-pay, maintenance therapy.

The maintenance therapists helped discover Mary’s abilities and limitations. The couple’s therapy goals were set collaboratively. These weren’t goals for the purpose of insurance coverage, but the goals that were important to both of them. They were finding their “new normal”. Her desire to maximize her mobility, strength and balance was met by creative exercise instruction from her therapists. Over time, with PT/OT each week, Mary had many successes. Eventually she was able to walk throughout her home, enjoy her swimming pool and an adaptive horse-riding program! Her quality of life was significantly improved as she met her goals of participating in community activities and going out to dinner with Ed. She felt empowered, engaged and happy about her accomplishments.

While many people desire and achieve goals of improvement, maintenance therapy also understands that sometimes, true “maintenance of ability” IS the goal. Many seniors get caught in a cycle of decline which leads to hospitalization and rehab. Once home again, it’s difficult to maintain exercise programs independently. Lack of adequate maintenance leads to progressive decline and the cycle begins again. Introducing maintenance therapy can be a life changer for a senior.

When a client has ongoing, one-on-one therapy, they are able to maintain their physical abilities. This makes the difference between staying at home vs. moving to assisted living or nursing home. A benefit of maintenance therapy is the same therapist can continue with clients if they change the place they call home.

If you are a senior who wants to either regain or maintain your quality of life through wellness and exercise, maintenance therapy may be the missing link that you have been searching for.

Finding EXCELLENCE in Senior Healthcare


As a health care professional for the past 15+ years I’ve always felt pretty confident I could find a good doctor, pharmacist, caregiver, physical therapist, or nurse if the time ever came that I needed one…especially in a crisis.  I was recently put on the caregiver side of the health care equation – nothing earth shattering, but my son broke his leg and it came with a unique set of circumstances.  Lost dreams of a summer soccer season, bike riding and swimming with friends, and a choir trip to Alaska were all things that suddenly seemed very much shattered.  As his mom and caregiver I found myself wondering about all these things and a hundred others.  I was squarely in a situation that was out of my control to direct. We were at the mercy of whatever orthopedic doctor the scheduler assigned to us.

I imagine this is how family members feel when a senior in crisis is referred to a nursing home for rehab or to a home care agency for on-going care.  How do I know I’m going to like the person that is assigned to me?  Will they take enough time for me?  Will they answer my questions?  Are they any good at what they do?  Do they provide quality care?  How do I know that what they are telling me is correct?  How do I know what I don’t know?

What happened next on our broken leg journey was nothing short of anxiety inducing.  The doctor we saw didn’t have time for us, he couldn’t relate to my son, and looked at me like I was crazy when I asked about pain control.  We left his office without any instructions on my son’s restrictions or care.  We also left with newfound gratitude for my profession as an occupational therapist; we would have been totally lost otherwise.  What I realized after the shock of the appointment wore off was this:  a broken bone had become routine to this doctor.  It was a mechanical issue that needed repair – there was no passion for the care of the patient.  To my son and our family a broken bone was anything other than routine; it was a loss of some short-term hopes and dreams.  This is no different for a senior who sustains a fall, has a heart attack, or develops dementia – plans are changed, dreams are shattered, lives are disrupted…that IS NOT routine.  How do you find an individual provider or senior care agency that will help you compensate, adapt, and be compassionate around these issues?

Here are a few ideas: