April 15, 2024 | Mikki Lindstrom

3 Minute Read

Explore this New Frontier for Diversifying Your Private Practice Rehab Therapy Revenue

With the growing ‘silver tsunami,’ rehab therapy practices can partner with local senior living communities to diversify and grow their business.

By Mikki Lindstrom, PT
Account Executive, Net Health – Senior Living

Milk and cookies. Cats and the internet. Senior living and rehab therapy.

Some things fit perfectly together. Yet in the case of private practice rehab therapy clinics and their local senior living communities, few outpatient physical therapy practices make the most of the potential of mixing the two.

At a time when private practice rehab therapists are continually searching for ways to diversify programs, revenue, and referral sources, senior living communities, like assisted living facilities (ALFs), represent a “new frontier” for the delivery of therapy—a hotbed of patients and administrators who can immensely benefit from the services you offer.

Today, some of the most successful rehab therapy private practices make concerted efforts toward establishing partnerships with local senior and assisted living communities. In doing so, they tap into a dependable market with growing demand for their services.

The ‘Silver Tsunami’ Will Need Rehab Therapy

Just how large is the potential greenspace that’s made up of senior living and assisted living communities? It’s sizeable.

  • The number of people 65 and over in the U.S. is projected to grow from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050—a 47% increase often referred to as the “silver tsunami.”1
  • This results in an increasing demand for senior housing units. Experts predict between 25,000 and 40,000 additional housing units will be required annually from now through 2030 to accommodate the increase in the senior population.2
  • The typical residents of these assisted living communities need help managing conditions like high blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, depression, diabetes, etc.—often in combination.3
  • Assisted living is the most cost-effective model for professional caregiving, reducing costs for public health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ care.4 This makes it advantageous for payers to promote the longevity and independence of seniors in assisted living residences.

Currently, approximately 30,600 assisted living communities are in operation throughout the U.S. with a total of around 1.2 million licensed living units.5 Everyone residing in these units could benefit from rehab therapy services and treatments. Yet, many smaller senior living communities still don’t have a consistent therapy presence.

The reason? Often, it’s simply a lack of education. While senior living communities focus on providing seniors with a safe and supportive place to live while aiding some activities of daily living, not all owners and administrators have a background in healthcare. They may not fully appreciate how a more consistent rehab therapy presence can impact residents as well as the business itself.

This is an opportunity for local private practice rehab therapists who may wish to close this educational gap while building a mutually beneficial partnership with the senior living community.

Rehab Therapy is Good Business for Senior Living

Never assume senior living community leaders are going to automatically know how a rehab therapy presence, typically in the form of a small satellite clinic or in-home care within individual units, is going to benefit the community.  This is where education becomes a key starting point.

That means, when engaging senior living communities, come armed with explanations about how rehab therapy improves function, reduces pain, and helps residents manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and more. Also, speak to how these services can also impact the community operationally.

For example, offering rehab therapy at senior living communities helps people thrive—not just survive—by:

  • Improving the happiness and independence of residents.
  • Providing regular health screening and risk assessments.
  • Reducing the risk and severity of common conditions.
  • Increasing resident longevity within the community.
  • Establishing a point of differentiation within local markets.
  • Reducing falls and other issues related to mobility and independence.

Falls, for example, can have a significant impact on a senior community’s bottom line. One study found that assistant living facilities pay an average of $313,000 per year (more than $5,000 per incident) in costs related to falls. The same study found that falls significantly affected staff turnover in 85% of the organizations.6

So, don’t just focus discussions on how rehab therapy can treat existing pain, injury, and ailments. Frame them around offering and leading activities related to wellness, prevention, and therapeutic well-being.

Getting Started

Private practice rehab therapy is a relationship business, so establishing connections with other organizations within your community is likely an intuitive step. As with any new program, however, all involved must go into the effort with their eyes wide open.

This starts with establishing a specific vision that aligns with the needs and abilities of a practice and its team—before even reaching out to local senior living owners and administrators.

Below are five steps to follow when considering a move into the senior living greenspace:

Establish Your Vision

What do you and your clinical team have to offer local senior living and assisted living communities? Does a potential collaboration make sense? What are you capable of doing based on your current staff size and availability?

Are you able to establish small, on-site satellite clinics at local senior living communities? Will in-home services work better? And, what else are you able to offer in the way of screening events, educational services, or other movement-based activities (i.e., balance exercises, strength sessions, preventative workshops, etc.)?

Will this effort be an extension of your current clinical services, or will you market it differently?

Establishing yourself as the provider of choice for area senior communities will not generally require your clinical team to receive specialized training. Many of the residents’ ailments and conditions are issues most rehab therapy teams encounter every day within their clinics.

Define the Opportunity

Time to research the potential that exists around you. For example, how many independent senior living or 55-plus communities operate within your service area(s)? How many residents does this represent?

It’s also important to look at other senior-based communities, as well. Consider assisted living communities, memory care facilities, adult day cares, senior citizen centers, etc. All these organizations serve populations of seniors who can benefit from rehab therapy care, and they offer the potential to serve their clinical needs from a single location.

Review Operational Needs

As with any new program, investments will likely be necessary to expand services into these senior communities. The goal, of course, is to identify areas with the most need and the greatest potential impact.

So once your budget is set, will this expansion effort require additional clinical, billing, and/or administrative staffing? Will services require transportation, special equipment, or updated technology/software? How will your team market these services, and will these services require any additional legal or compliance expertise?

An honest review of your practice’s capacity and willingness to adjust operationally will help determine the likely scope of this new program.

Make Connections to Create Partnerships

Once you have your vision, you’ve defined the potential that exists in your market, and you have an operational budget and plan, it’s finally time to approach local senior and assisted living leaders. The goal is to tell your story, explain your vision, and talk through potential ways you might move forward in mutually beneficial ways.

When making connections, understand that the development of true, long-term partnerships is likely to take time. To more impactfully introduce yourself and your clinic’s value, consider hosting events at the community that educate staff and/or residents on issues like balance, fall prevention, flexibility, strength, and general well-being.

Agreeing to offer regular health and movement screening events is another way to build trust and credibility, strengthen relationships, and show value to local senior communities.

Get Help

With all the unknowns that come with starting a new rehab therapy program, don’t hesitate to reach out to people who know the assisted living industry better than you. This may include colleagues who have successfully created similar efforts in the past, or consultants who help practices like yours build positive and profitable new programs.

It may also include technology and software vendors that offer senior living-specific solutions for things like scheduling, documenting, billing, coding, and onboarding.

If your rehab therapy practice is interested in exploring the senior living landscape in your area but has questions about your market’s potential, contact me any time. I’m happy to walk you through the process of expanding into this beneficial space, including how to evaluate the true potential that exists within your service area.

About the Author

Mikki Lindstrom is a licensed Physical Therapist with extensive C-suite operational, sales, and management experience in hospitals through entire post-acute therapy settings. She is well-versed in current healthcare reimbursement and, therefore, able to lead a healthcare team to be successful with new and forthcoming regulations and payment models. Mikki is currently an account executive with Net Health Senior Living, with a focus on working with rehab therapists within the ALF space.

1 Population Reference Bureau (PRB), “Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States,” Jan. 9, 2024
2 Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, “Senior Housing: Soaring Growth and Future Prospects,” Oct. 4, 2023
3 AHCA/NCAL, “Assisted Living Facts and Figures,” 2023
4 Argentum, “Argentum Releases New Report Demonstrating Value of Assisted Living for All Americans,” March 9, 2023
5 Argentum, “Argentum Releases New Report Demonstrating Value of Assisted Living for All Americans,” March 9, 2023
6 The State of Falls 2022, “From Crisis to Opportunity: Coming Together for Transformative Change”

Share this post

Subscribe and See More