Comfort Keepers offers quality home care services for much of central Minnesota
Sue Thorson has owned and operated Comfort Keepers in Waite Park since 2004. Photo by Cathy Nelson
Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. And, most people want to remain in their homes even as they age and experience more health problems, rather than moving in with family or into a facility. When Sue Thorson, owner/operator of Comfort Keepers in Waite Park, heard the research done by AARP that 89 percent of seniors prefer living in their own home indefinitely as they age, she responded, “I think that number is higher.” Seniors tell her they don’t want to leave the place where they have lived for decades and have so many memories.
Thorson, a home care nurse with over 25 years of experience, has made a career out of caring for seniors, and she believes that they have better health and a better quality of life when they can live and age at home, known as “aging in place.” She was inspired by her own loving grandparents to partner with Comfort Keepers and to offer top quality home care services to seniors and other adults, including persons with multiple sclerosis, early-onset Alzheimer’s and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The “Comfort Keepers” are the caregivers who are in contact with and provide care to their clients on a regular basis. They deliver care through interactive caregiving, interacting with and engaging each person, which might mean playing cards, baking, looking at old photos or doing a puzzle. Interactive caregiving stresses the importance of an active mind, physical activity, proper nutrition and safety.
Comfort Keepers matches caregivers with clients based on compatibility and needs. They are trained to assist the client, not to take over. Seniors are encouraged to make choices and to help with tasks as they are able. Comfort Keepers acts as an advocate for clients and their families and can help them locate other resources out there for those who want to remain living in their own home.
Jay Vasek owns and operates Comfort Keepers in Little Falls/Brainerd, and they serve a large rural area which includes Alexandria, Staples, Sauk Centre, Melrose, Paynesville and other north central Minnesota communities. Vasek believes that Comfort Keepers is different from other providers of in-home care services. “We are at the forefront of how to engage the client,” he said. “If someone had a hobby as a kid, for example, I don’t like to hear that he can’t do it anymore. I want to know– how can we do this.”
Jay Vasek, owner of Comfort Keepers in Little Falls/Brainerd, participated in a parade with his family last summer. Contributed photo
Vasek has partnered with the free, self-guided Legacy Stories program which helps a family record, archive and share the life stories of a parent or grandparent for the benefit of future generations. “Think of how many people have shoeboxes of old photos sitting around,” said Vasek. “The photo alone might not mean anything to families, but by using a smartphone, you could record mom or dad telling the story behind the photo.” That’s when it becomes meaningful. The Legacy Stories program sends weekly emails with tips on story ideas, interview methods and recording techniques.
There is a range of services offered by Comfort Keepers, including care services such as companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping/errands, incidental transportation, respite and 24-hour care; and personal care such as bathing, grooming, mobility assistance, transferring and positioning, toileting, dementia care and medication reminders. Comfort Keepers offers the Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) from Safety Choice. Clients can receive a few hours/week of service or around-the-clock care, depending on their needs. Services can always be added if necessary.
Eva R., of Little Falls, is grateful to Comfort Keepers for the 24-hour care she received while getting back on her feet. She expressed her thanks, writing, “I would like to thank all of you at Comfort Keepers for providing excellent compassionate care to me the last three months…You have truly gone over the top. Everything from helping adjust the height of my bed, cooking for me, cleaning for me and helping me with my personal needs were all done with great professionalism.”
“It’s a big relief for families to be able to get care for their loved one,” said Thorson. Families don’t necessarily live next door to one another anymore, and it’s more difficult to help a loved one when they live far away. A few warning signs that a person may need additional help to live independently might be changes in grooming or housekeeping, poor eating habits, incontinence, or forgetting to take a medication.
Bud and his wife feel blessed to have Danielle as his caregiver. Contributed photo “She fits right in. We feel blessed to have her (Danielle, Comfort Keepers caretaker). We were so frightened when Bud was getting out of the hospital. The doctors and nurses said he needed 24 hour care. Everyone said he needed a nursing home but I wanted to give him a chance to be at home. I called another agency and they said they didn’t have anyone available so I called Comfort Keepers. We aren’t scared anymore. We are very satisfied. She just fits right in. We feel blessed to have her.” – Mary Lou (Bud’s wife)
Clients are most often referred for services by their adult children, but physicians also recommend in-home care services. Comfort Keepers develops a personalized care plan for each client dependent on their abilities and needs. Seniors may initially resist the idea of getting in-home care services. “When they see the impact it has on their lives, they’re happier, and they value the service,” Thorson said. “We let them know we want them to be safe and we want them to remain at home.” That’s a win-win for everyone.
When choosing in-home care services, there are many options out there. Thorson and Vasek believe Comfort Keepers is the best choice. Some of their reasons are: they are locally owned and operated; they have a Minnesota Comprehensive License as a Home Care Agency, their Client Care Coordinators are licensed professionals, RNs and LPNs, caregivers are fully screened, insured and bonded for client protection; and all employees are trained, experienced and Minnesota HIPAA compliant.
Comfort Keepers offers a no obligation in-home consultation for clients and families who are interested in learning more about in-home care services. If you live in the St. Cloud, Monticello or Buffalo area, contact the Comfort Keepers Waite Park office at 320-230-9939. Contact Comfort Keepers at 320-632-0924 or 218-829-2424 if you live in the Little Falls, Alexandria, Sauk Centre, Albany or Brainerd area.
To learn more about Legacy Stories, go to littlefalls-843.comfortkeepers.com.