CAREGiver of the Month Michaela

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Michaela, Client Make Music, Laughs

Guten Abend, gute Nacht,
mit Rosen bedacht,
mit Näglein besteckt,
schlupf? unter die Deck!
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will,
wirst du wieder geweckt.

Those lyrics are the German version of the Brahms' Lullaby. Award-winning CAREGiver Michaela Mattes sings them to her 98-year-old client. Well, sometimes she does ... if Michaela's client isn't already singing. Or if an 87-year-old neighbor isn't already belting out his nightly number. Or if the two of them haven't coerced Michaela into joining them for a song or two.

Sometimes it's a songfest at the client's assisted living apartment. The tunes don't always come out perfectly, but the laughs are never in short supply. "Even though my client likes singing, she is not a good singer. But who cares?" Michaela said with a giggle. "This is what companionship is about - she shows life is still worth living and she wants to make the most of it."

One day, the client insisted on putting Michaela in the spotlight. "She got me to sing and told me, 'Oh, you have a wonderful voice,' so I have sung to her in German," said Michaela, a native of Vienna, Austria. "I don't think I'm a good singer, either, but I sang 'Guten Abend, Gute Nacht,' which is the Brahms' Lullaby."

The neighbor sings an old love song or two when he arrives on his nightly visit. "He has a good voice," Michaela said. "They have a routine where he comes over about 7 p.m. They enjoy a frozen yogurt. We've sung together, 'Over the Rainbow,' the song from 'The Wizard of Oz.' They enjoy being themselves, and it's a treat to be a part of it all."

Michaela, a CAREGiver of the Month for Home Instead Senior Care® of Las Cruces, said she's fascinated by the never-married client, a former musician who played the viola for 40 years in a Detroit-area symphony before retiring and moving to Las Cruces. She lived with her sister until the sister died less than a year ago at age 93. She's been virtually alone since then.

"She is fun. Her mind is still sharp, and she's interested in me, asking how my life is going when I visit," Michaela said. "She laughs about the silliest things."

One silly moment resulted in CAREGiver and client laughing so hard that they cried. "One day, she didn't want me to wash dishes. She went into the bathroom, and she came out and caught me washing them. She told me in a stern voice: 'You are a bad girl.' Then she caught herself, and we started laughing and couldn't stop. She never says a bad thing about anybody. Her typical response to everything is 'This is so wonderful.' She listens to everyone and laughs with them. I hope I am like her when I am that age."

Michaela has brought smiles to her clients since joining co-owners Jan and Ron Wimsatt on Sept. 29, 2010. She moved from Austria to the U.S. in 1991, heading to California for three years before settling in Las Cruces in 1994. Before joining Home Instead, she worked for nine years as a community living specialist who taught daily living skills to developmentally delayed adults.

She also has spent time with New Mexico State University as a teaching assistant from 2007 to 2009, overseeing a microbiology and soil fertility lab. In 2006-2007, she was an NMSU graduate research assistant and was an undergraduate student assistant in 2004.

"Michaela has a college degree in environmental science but has not pursued employment in that field to our great pleasure because her true calling seems to be enhancing the lives of seniors and their families," Jan said. "She has such a delightful sense of humor and when she stops by the office, she has us laughing in no time."

Client Care Manager Dona Martinez said Michaela couples her sunny disposition with an amazing work ethic. "Michaela is always open to work with anyone. She goes into every situation with a positive attitude and a smile. She is dependable and flexible," Dona said.

Jan added: "She has worked seven days a week most weeks, filled in for emergencies and communicates client needs to the office staff. She asks off when she needs it, but otherwise is always ready to meet the needs of our clients.

"She did a one-time fill-in for an active/on-call client and so impressed him that he called the office the next day to let us know how effective she was. It was the first time this client had made such a call since we began service in 1997."

"Guten Abend, gute Nacht." For that happy client, it was "good evening, good night."

Home Instead CAREGivers, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, provide a variety of non-medical services to help keep seniors independent. For inquiries about employment with Home Instead Senior Care, please call (575) 522-7133 . Home Instead Senior Care also accepts online applications to become a in home caregiver.

For further information about the company, visit Las Cruces Home Instead Senior Care, or learn more about our company's senior home care services by viewing our digital brochure.​


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