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More than a caretaker

Prairie Rose Home Services employee more like member of family

May 5, 2008
Jan Nelson, a homemaker for Prairie Rose Home Services, has provided in-home services for the elderly for 12 years. The services she helps her clients with include general housekeeping duties, errands, personal care, and respite care.

She also acts as a companion.

“I like the clients, I want to be able to keep them in their homes longer. I feel like a companion and a family member more than a caretaker,” Nelson said.

Nelson became interested in working for Prairie Rose after providing day care and caring for her own children. She was originally looking for a part-time job, but that eventually developed into doing full-time work.

Nelson knew she was well suited to the job, because she had grown up with many elderly individuals.

“All my relatives were older, and I always figured that elderly people were set in their ways. That helped me when walking into this career,” Nelson said.

“It’s (providing home services) not hard work, but you have to be kind of cut out to work with people,” she added.

After getting to know her clients, Nelson found that her clients were willing to learn from her, and she was willing to learn from them. She and her clients help lift each other’s spirits.

“I know one thing. If I wake up and really don’t feel like doing anything, by the time I get to their house, they’re glad to see you. If you’re in a bad mood, they cheer you up. If they’re in a bad mood, you cheer them up,” Nelson said.

At first, though, gauging the personalities of different clients can be a challenge.

“Going into a client’s home for the first time can be scary. I’ll visit with them first, and learn what they want done and how they want it done. Eventually, they will begin to trust you,” Nelson said.

Nelson forms friendships with her clients, and has sometimes found it difficult to let go when they die.

“After about three or four years of working with this gentleman, I was his confidant. He got to be very dependent on me. He was so dependent on me, it was hard to get through it when he passed,” Nelson said.

“They (clients) adopt you, and you adopt them. After you’ve been there for a while, you find out their family situations, and you become their confidant,” she added.

Nelson’s work experiences over the years have encouraged her to think about preparing for her own golden years.

“Now, I think ahead about how I would like to be treated as an elderly person. I’ve made a few changes in my own home, and I’ve gotten ideas about things, like putting the laundry on the main floor instead of in the basement,” Nelson said.

As long as she is able, Nelson plans to keep on caring for the elderly, because she finds the work rewarding and challenging.

“I like doing things for people that they appreciate. It’s interesting. You never know from one time to the next what you’re going to run into,” Nelson said.


(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to

Article Photos

Katina Tengesdal

Jan Nelson
, homemaker for Prairie Rose Home Services, enjoys caring for the elderly.



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