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Home for the Holidays: Signs Aging Parents May Need Additional Support

As families gather for the holidays, it can be a good time to assess an older parent’s living situation and well-being. For adult children traveling home for the holidays, this may be the first time seeing a parent in person in a while. Holidays offer an opportunity to see signs that a loved one could use extra help or support in their daily life.   

Knowing when it’s time for assisted living or memory care can be challenging. One of the greatest acts of love is when an adult child can help their parent/parents recognize the need for a change in their living situation and then help them facilitate that change. While it might not feel like that when you are going through it, you are doing what needs to be done so your loved one can thrive again. 

Following are signs that may indicate it’s time for additional support for your loved one:

Piles of unattended to business

Look around your loved one’s home. Are there piles of mail or unattended to business? Perhaps unpaid bills or checks that have gone missing? This could be a sign of cognitive impairment, vision loss, or just that your loved one needs some extra support.

Unexplained bruises

Pay attention to any unexplained bruises or scratches on your loved one. This could be due to a possible fall or tripping incident. Of course everyone has their clumsy moments, but if this is a repeated issue it could be a sign that your loved one is struggling to get around or it might be a side effect of medication.

Trouble managing medications

Most older adults rely on prescription medications to manage their health. But what if they take the wrong drug, miss doses, or take more than prescribed? Medications can only work well for your loved one when they are correctly taken. If your loved one is having trouble managing their medications, it may be time for additional support.

Trouble getting around

Notice how your loved one moves around their home. Are they holding onto rails or door frames in order to get around? This could indicate they are having mobility issues that might need further evaluation.

Damage to motor vehicle

Take a look at your loved one’s car. New dents of scratches might be a sign that their driving skills are declining. If you can, take a ride with your parents to see how they are driving. Are they drifting, driving slowly, or not turning around to look while backing up? If so, it might be time to assess whether they need someone to help get them to and from appointments and with other errands.

House isn’t being cared for

Notice if there’s been a change in cleanliness in their home since the last time you saw them. While things might not be spotless, look for big changes in upkeep from what you would typically see. This could look like mildew or mold in an area, a pest problem, or spoiled foods sitting out or in the refrigerator.

Decline in hygiene

Changes in grooming habits such as dirty clothes, dirty hair, or body odor could be a sign of cognitive impairment or physical limitations. These changes could be a sign that additional care is needed or memory loss could be causing them to forget to bathe, change clothes, or eat. 

Unstocked pantry or refrigerator

Open up your loved one’s pantry and refrigerator. Is it stocked with fresh food or is everything boxed or expired? Lack of fresh food could be a sign that they are struggling with food shopping or cooking for themselves and could benefit from additional support when it comes to meals.

Personality changes

Have you noticed any personality shifts? Do they seem more down than normal? Are they experiencing big mood swings? Big mood swings and personality shifts could be a sign of dementia. 

If it is the right time, what are the next steps?

Making a move to assisted living sooner rather than later can be extremely beneficial for your loved one. Waiting too long can negatively impact their health and make the transition more difficult. If you think a move is on the horizon, here are some things you can do to begin the process:

Have conversations with other family members

When you’re making a decision like this, gathering support from other family members can help alleviate some of the stress for your loved one.

Find the right place

With so many options and things to consider, it’s important to personalize this experience for your loved one to assure that they are comfortable and get the best care possible. Visit assisted living communities to get a sense of the space, the culture, amenities, life enrichment offerings, etc. Start by scheduling your tour at Clark now.

Selecting the right level of independence 

Clark offers a variety of assisted living options at both Franklin and Keller Lake locations depending on the level of independence that’s right for your loved one. Each option includes access to Clark’s amenities and daily life enrichment activities. Our senior living advisors can provide additional details, but following is a brief overview of our options:

  • Enhanced Living offers independent apartment living that includes daily chef-prepared meals with the option of adding on certain a la carte services to meet your loved one’s needs. These additional services can include medication reminders, housekeeping, or laundry services.
  • Assisted Living provides residents a homelike environment and the opportunity to remain as independent as possible while accessing necessary support services. Personal care, medication management, and meals prepared by our executive chef are all included.
  • Memory Care is similar to assisted living but offered in a safe and secure environment that includes plenty of helpful and comforting memory cues. Your loved one will also benefit from our innovative programming, including music therapy and our Montessori for Aging and Dementia Program, led by experienced and specially certified professionals.

Recognizing that your loved one needs extra support can be difficult. However, once they are settled in the right place, there is so much joyful life to live. Trust that you are doing the right thing for yourself and your loved one and your family. Give your family the gift of more memories made and happy days together.

Learn More

At Clark, we partner with families in planning the care your loved one receives and focus on empowering your loved one to maintain as much of their independence as possible while being available 24/7 to lend them a helping hand when it’s needed. Ultimately, this means your loved one has the space to thrive, and you can worry less knowing supportive care surrounds them.

If you think your loved one could benefit from assisted living at either our Franklin or Keller Lake locations, contact our senior living advisors at or 616-278-6520 or complete the form below to learn more about our living options at our two distinctive locations. We’d love to show you what Clark can bring to your family.

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