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We’ve watched Mom lose her memory, hearing, financial prowess and driving skills. But we’ve also tried not to become overly controlling in her life.

Yet there are few options when a 93-year-old parent doesn’t use good judgment, suffers from loneliness, confusion and becomes an easy target for predators. She insists that she “wants to die in my own home,” yet refuses to allow us to hire any assistance.

Like many adult children, we have begun to walk a tightrope between overstepping boundaries and ensuring that she makes it through the day by giving her medications, paying bills and preparing meals. For more than a year there were telltale signs suggesting that we must take more assertive action: When we noticed that Mom could no longer differentiate between advertisements and legitimate bills, we took over her finances.

Occasionally, she has lucid moments and we enjoy them, too. For a brief time, we have our mother back.

Most days, when debating whether we should intervene in her life, we try to give her the benefit of the doubt. All living involves some risk. We can’t rob Mom of her dignity in the name of safety.


Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers.