older woman being treated by a physiotherapist
Photo: Sean Anthony Eddy/Getty Images

Move over, nursing homes. Assisted living communities nationwide increasingly are embracing a more comprehensive approach to resident care and wellness that incorporates rehabilitation services. It’s quite a shift from days gone by, when senior living operators often saw themselves as a lifestyle option with maybe a few concierge-type services thrown in.

Increasingly, however, communities are taking a broad-stroke approach that prioritizes emotional, mental and especially physical well-being. As operators become increasingly sensitized to the physical challenges that typically accompany the aging process, they are viewing rehab services as a way to both upgrade care and compete
for residents.

Physical therapy often has been at the fore of this shift. At many senior living communities, residents seeking to retain their mobility or improve their recovery are accessing tailored exercise regimes designed to maximize
their independence. Increasingly, trained therapists are working closely with residents to tailor plans and execution. This holistic approach is fostering a sense of empowerment and encouraging residents to take an active role in their well-being.

For many providers, it comes down to finding the right rehab partner. Tucson, AZ-based Watermark Retirement Communities now partners with HealthPRO Heritage to offer Hyperice compression and pulse technology to residents. The various therapies use temperature, vibration and compression to try to increase range of motion in joints, reduce muscle soreness and improve blood flow to enhance mobility.

The trend is being driven in part by senior living’s growing recognition as a healthcare player. In some areas, operators are competing head-to-head with skilled nursing operators for the same
hospital discharges. By offering an increasing array of rehab services, senior living players are positioning themselves as a legitimate post-acute option, particularly for residents with memory care challenges.

It’s good for business and also good for residents, fueling improvements in overall outcomes, rehospitalizations and longevity.