We are following the journey of two local women. When we introduced you to them last month, the elderly mom’s husband died and she was beginning to struggle with managing her health and her household alone. Her daughter helped her hire Matrix Home Healthcare Services to manage her medical and personal needs. (Check out our first installment of this serial online at edenprairielifestyle.com.) Matrix is owned by Karen Lawrence, an accomplished nurse who has dedicated her 30-plus year career to taking care of people facing the challenges of old age. She respects and enjoys them. She honors their wisdom and potential with both basic healthcare and extras that help seniors enjoy every year of their lives. Their services include everything from basic personal care and help with housekeeping to complex medical care and extended hours care for people in hospice.
“Matrix staff made life better for all of us.”
When we first started working with them, they visited mom several times a week to pitch in with housekeeping, laundry, and errands. They also helped manage her primary medical issues – diabetes and arthritis – and coached me on understanding her aging experience. Mom enjoyed the companionship so much it helped her adjust to living at home without our dad. She still missed him, but the loneliness was a little more tolerable with her new, capable friends.
A few things happened that helped us realize mom needed more help. Her little dog was such a comfort to her, but she wasn’t really able to take care of him anymore. Her arthritis pain was getting worse and she had started to lose weight and strength. We could tell from the sensor mat that she wasn’t heating up food in the microwave very often and we were worried about further diabetic complications. She also got scared at night and called me when she heard noises at least once a week.
“Mom was really afraid to leave the home she’d shared with our dad.”
We visited several upscale assisted living facilities but we really couldn’t picture our reserved mom adapting to the big building lifestyle: she’d heard stories about cliques at dining room tables and was intimidated by elevators. We realized that some of the services mom would need in a big senior care home would be billed a la carte. Mom could still stay in her house and get the same services from Matrix staff living with her. Matrix arranged for two people to help her. They took turns living with and caring for her, one week on, one week off. They were like roommates who anticipated mom’s every need. They cooked for her, they managed her medications, they changed her sheets and did her laundry. Mom still got to enjoy her dog without having to take him out or worry about feeding him. Her caregivers were friendly companions equipped with all the skills and patience mom needed. They communicated well with each other and me, the rotations helped keep them fresh and mom benefited from having two people compare strategies to optimize her well being.
She needed help getting to the bathroom and they made her feel safe. She had trouble with the remote control and they helped her find channels she liked. They dialed her phone when she wanted to call my siblings. Matrix arranged her physical therapy appointments so she’d stay as agile as possible. I was worried about all the things they had to juggle but they were so good with mom. Even though mom’s memory kept getting worse, her arthritis was painful, her mobility was getting limited and her circulation was troublesome, it was obvious that the best choice for our mom was to be home. The Matrix staff was so adept and caring, she barely noticed how much they were doing for her. She’d just cuddle with her dog, we’d sip on coffee and she’d reminisce about dancing with my dad while we listened to her music. I learned so much from Karen. She anticipated mom’s upcoming needs and helped me prepare myself for next steps. I trusted her to know the best resources in our area and she never let me down. I still spent a lot of time with my mom but it was fun for both of us. I didn’t have to fuss around the house because everything was so well kept, her healthcare was top notch and her condition was so well documented, I could just enjoy my time with her. The staff even asked us to find big band music CDs and have plenty of photo albums around so she could show them pictures. That, and their kind advice to never tell mom she was repeating herself, helped me trust that they really cared about her.
According to Lawrence, “Every family is different and each care plan is unique to the needs of our clients and their loved ones. We’re there where and when you need us so that you’re happy with the care we provide. When you visit your mom or dad, you can enjoy your time with them instead of doing things like changing their sheets, helping them bathe or counting their pills.”
Unlike the lady in our serial, some people are energized by a big facility filled with dozens of new people and a bustle of activities. Matrix can also supplement the care provided in these facilities, too. Many services can be provided by Matrix staff; they can also help families find other resources they need for medical conditions, companionship, and personal care. For seniors who want to stay in their own homes, Matrix can often create plans with families to make it work for their clients. “Home” is where you are, according to the Matrix philosophy. They create a plan for clients across the wide array of living options, then follow through with compassionate care. Look for our final chapter in next month’s issue of Eden Prairie Lifestyle and visit matrixhomehealthmn.com.