Helping Seniors Live Their Best Lives

How’s your mom? Active and independent? Is your dad still driving? Whether they’re local or far away, your parents are likely to need your help someday. It can be hard when it’s our turn to step in, but it’s also an opportunity to show our gratitude and to model how we hope to be cared for when we’re in their shoes. We’re lucky to live in a city where the latest trends in taking care of our aging parents are available. If you haven’t met Karen Lawrence, it may be because you haven’t needed her yet. But tuck this story away, because you’ll want to know her when the time is right to help your mom or dad live their best life.

“I was always close to my grandparents and I’ve spent my career in nursing. It’s an honor to walk with someone through this part of their lives. I always find something there that helps me be a better person.” Lawrence has dedicated over 30 years to caring for seniors. She’s a Registered Nurse and earned her Masters degrees in the field;  she’s certified in gerontological nursing and is a Certified Case Manager.  She owns and directs Matrix Home Healthcare Specialists, and her business is dedicated to her life’s work. She helps us honor our parents with best practice care to make the rest of their lives as healthy, comfortable and happy as possible. When you hire help like this, it also soothes your soul.

Lawrence and her team are connected to resources that many of us don’t even know exist. Think of them as a healthcare concierge. Taking care of elderly parents can feel like visiting a country where you only know a little bit of the language – where the landscape changes almost every day. It can be daunting, but Lawrence’s calm competence will help see you and your family through. Matrix can either provide you with what you’re looking for or help you engage the services you need. The “home” in home health care might be your mom’s house, an assisted living facility, your own home or a small Matrix residential care home. Senior care can be enhanced in almost any home location. Old fashioned “nursing homes” are still around, but there are lots of options to improve levels of care. Lawrence says,“Our services add quality of life wherever home is.” Even with health challenges and memory issues, seniors can thrive.

Follow this three-part serial over the next few months as we share a mom and her daughter’s story about how they found help from Lawrence and Matrix Home Healthcare Specialists. As this elderly woman’s needs evolve, we’ll highlight the services Lawrence and her team provide.

“After dad died, mom just seemed to fall apart.”

I first contacted Matrix after my dad died. Suddenly, mom was on her own and the partnership that kept things working in her home was gone. She didn’t want us to know that she fell or that she had trouble remembering to pay her bills. I live in the area; my brother and sister are far away. Most of her care would be my responsibility and mom kept saying she didn’t ‘want to be a burden.’ She also really wanted to stay in her own home. With her own little dog. It was so full of memories. We knew she admitted she felt a little ‘addled’ to a few friends, but it seemed like everything was easier when she was among familiar surroundings. About a month after dad died, I got a call from mom’s insurance agent, who was a family friend. He said, ‘Your mom hasn’t paid her premiums. She used to be on-time, so I’m a little worried about her.’ I guess it’s common for family members to know there’s a problem, but it takes an outsider to spur people to action. I heard about Matrix from a friend and requested a comprehensive assessment.

An RN assessed mom and worked with me to convince her that some help at home could make her life a lot easier and safer. The assessment revealed her vulnerabilities and risks to be addressed. Based on the nurse’s respectful recommendations, we developed a plan together. Mom accepted that Karen’s assistance could help her stay in her house. Matrix led me through revisiting her healthcare directives and mom agreed to let me help her with medical decisions, too.

“Matrix made staying in her own 
home possible.”

We hired Matrix to accompany mom and act as her advocate on doctor’s visits. They monitored her diabetes at home and kept me up-to-date with regular reports. We worked together to create weekly meal plans. Mom still enjoyed doing her own grocery shopping and we hired Matrix to coordinate transportation for trips to the market. They also said a ramp from her front door and safety rails in the bathroom could help prevent falls. Because they were worried about balance when she wasn’t using her walker, we set up bathing assistance. They also had a signal installed in the bathroom that mom could use to let Matrix know she was up in the morning. We added a mat in front of the microwave to keep track of her cooking activity. Mom got an alert necklace she could use if she fell. I was amazed at all the technology available to help her.

Mom was so happy she could stay in her home. It was hard for her to admit she needed help, but she soon realized that everyday tasks felt less daunting. The added benefits meant the world to us.  Mom enjoyed the extra company! Her house seemed less empty with all the friendly help. We noticed improvements as mom learned how to live without dad and I slept better knowing mom was safer and happier.

“I didn’t realize how much I needed a break.”

I tried to visit almost every day and I was really worried about going on a vacation with my family. We set up extra companionship from Matrix staff while we were gone. Their “respite care” team played cards, watched old musicals, looked at family photo albums and ate meals together until we got back. I was relaxed from a week free from caregiving and mom had fun stories to tell about her new companions.

According to Lawrence, families talk about a wide spectrum of care needs when they first contact Matrix. Some are not quite sure about intervening to help loved ones, sometimes families are in crisis mode. Wherever they are, the assessment process helps to encourage conversation and to facilitate plans. The written report may even help struggling individuals understand that getting help is the best option.

It’s comforting to know there are people like Karen Lawrence who are inspired by seniors and make it their goal to help them thrive. Sometimes the best way to help care for our parents is to find kind and skilled support from experts like her.  Watch for next month’s story about how Matrix continued to help the family as their needs evolved and visit matrixhomehealthmn.com.