This is the final chapter to our serial about an elderly lady, her daughter and Karen Lawrence, who was hired to manage her care through Matrix Home Healthcare Specialists. Lawrence owns and manages three care homes in the Twin Cities, all situated in nice neighborhoods. They offer on-site health care in a home environment for people with chronic and sometimes complicated conditions, including cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s. At first, Lawrence’s staff primarily provided her featured client with personal care services to create a safe and healthy environment in her own home. About a year later, her medical needs became more significant, yet she was still able to remain at home with the help of rotating 24-hour staff. “We weigh both the client’s and the family members’ wishes. We can help you discern what’s best for both you and your loved one.” While it was her family’s wish for her to live out her days in her own home, the combination of her diabetes, arthritis and memory loss added up to one of the typical reasons many seniors need to relocate: needing two people to help her get in and out of bed. Here’s her story, told in her daughter’s voice. (Visit our website to read parts one and two of our serial.)

PART 3

“Mom’s care got pretty complex.”

We always hoped we wouldn’t have to move mom. The Matrix staff did everything they could to keep her in her house. But, once she lost so much mobility and balance that it took two people to get her in and out of bed, we accepted that it was time for her to move. We were worried that a broken hip could send her to the hospital and a long rehab for the rest of her life. She was on a special diet and needed help with her diabetes monitoring and treatment. She required professional administration of her arthritis pain medication and an antidepressant. I was so grateful that Matrix even handled mom’s prescription refills. If a dosage needed to be adjusted, they arranged an appointment with mom’s gerontologist and made sure she got the amount she needed. She’d also grown more easily confused and even a little paranoid. She took quite a few meds and I was so grateful that one group was coordinating all her care. They knew mom and had her very best interests at heart. They also knew me and understood what my family and I wanted for her care.

Mom needed regular care not just for her health and mobility, she needed to be in a nurturing environment with round the clock staff who knew how to help her feel calm and valued.

“I can’t imagine that big facilities can be this individualized.”

We still thought mom would be overwhelmed by a big facility. She’d spent the last fifty years in her home. If we moved her to one of the nice local memory care centers, we thought she would be even more confused and lost in such a big space. Mom moved into a small group home where only eight elderly people get round the clock care from Matrix staff. It’s not her own house, but it does feel like a home. She has her own bedroom with her own furniture. There’s a kitchen if she wants to help cook.  There’s a pretty little garden and a bird feeder. They have neighbors and watch children board the school bus. She likes to sleep in, and the staff doesn’t care that she really only wants coffee and a slice of cheese before lunch. They all eat lunch and dinner at one family table together and she doesn’t have the pressure of wondering where to sit, which was always something she worried about when we visited assisted living facilities. Her dog lives there, too. He stays close to mom, but he also enjoys all the other people who live at her care home.

Life for my mom at this Matrix care home feels like a family. They have fun things to do every day and that helps keep mom calm. Her favorite activities are trivia and music. She loved it when they brought a petting zoo. Her caregivers take her out for ice cream after her haircuts. They do special things for all the people who live there. A gentleman who was a World War II pilot goes to the cell phone lot with one of the caregivers to watch planes take off at the airport. Another man likes yard work and I saw him sweeping leaves off the driveway this fall. My mom likes art, and the staff sit and draw with her. They say she remembers things and is less anxious when she has a colored pencil in her hand. I feel like Karen and her staff see past all the challenges that come with their clients’ advanced ages and view them as wonderful individuals who still have potential for happy days. I wouldn’t be good at the work myself and I’m beyond grateful that these kind and talented people take care of my mom.

I hope I have lots of time left with my mom, but Karen and I have talked about how she and Matrix can help if mom ends up in hospice care. They provide extended hours to hospice providers and it comforts me to know that these people I’ve trusted with my mom’s care for years can help keep her comfortable until we have to say goodbye.

“Our clients benefit from the continuity of care. It helps families to know that they don’t have to start over with new people at every turn.” If you don’t know Karen Lawrence, perhaps you haven’t needed her yet. Someday, if you’re taking care of your mom or dad, you’re going to want her in your corner. Visit matrixhomehealthmn.com