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What To Do When Aging Parents Have Different Care Needs

Choosing the right care options for a loved one can be challenging, and even more so for couples who have differing support needs. At Clark, we see this often when one spouse has dementia and the other spouse, who is able to live independently, becomes the primary caregiver. The caregiver’s health often declines, sometimes faster than the spouse with dementia, and the family struggles to figure out how to care for both parents. A common question that arises as families look to assisted living options is “How do we keep our parents together?” or “Should we keep them together?”

Meet Clark residents and married couple John and Mary. Mary lives in our award-winning memory care program and John has an apartment on the same floor in Independent Living. Prior to moving to Clark, John struggled to keep up with his wife’s ever changing needs due to her dementia. Their daughter became concerned that should this go on, her dad’s health would be impacted from the strains of caregiving so she reached out to Clark.

Today, Mary is engaged, much less agitated and calmer. John is healthier and has more pep in his step. He’s able to visit Mary’s room every morning after breakfast, do their devotionals, and spend time together. John also is able to take care of himself and explore his interests knowing Mary is well taken care of.

At Clark, we understand each situation is unique. Our team works alongside families to find the best solution that will help both spouses thrive.

The Toll Caregiving Can Take on a Spouse

Caregiving can take a toll on the caregiver’s health. Research shows that caregivers often neglect their own health while caring for their loved one. They are also at a much higher risk than others for diabetes, depression, stroke and other illnesses. A 1999 study found that caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than non-caregivers, and according to Stanford University, 40 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers die from stress-related disorders before the patient dies.

Easing the Burden of Caregiving – A Life Plan Community

By being a part of a Life Plan Community like Clark, couples are able to receive the care and support they need individually while also removing the stress of one spouse being the primary caregiver. Our continuum of care allows residents to move between independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing should their situation change. For loved ones, there is great benefit in knowing that both parents are being cared for.

Talk with a Clark Senior Living Advisor

If you think your loved one could benefit from being part of Clark’s community, contact our senior living advisors at or 616-278-6520 or fill out the form below to schedule a personalized consultation to discuss your unique situation and see if Clark is the right fit for your loved one.

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