As a senior’s health begins to fail, there comes a time when a conflict arises between the parent’s interests and the children’s interests when it comes to safety and autonomy. There were polls done among parents and their children and the overwhelming results are that the parent wants to keep their autonomy and the kids what to guarantee the parent’s safety. How are these at odds?

The problem is that you can’t have both. To a large extent they can be mutually exclusive interests. So who should prevail? Even if the parent may not have competency to make financial decisions or make health care decisions for themselves, they are still able to clearly communicate their wants and desires. They still are emotional beings and I believe that the parent’s mental health needs to be an important factor in determining the safety requirements and concessions that are thrust upon the parent.

Even though it may be difficult for children to accept, shouldn’t there be a balance between maintaining as much of the parent’s autonomy and still keeping the parent safe? Perhaps let them fail in caring for themselves just don’t let them get hit by a bus! Sometimes a parent or elderly person is much more accepting of the fact that they need to let go of a bit of their autonomy if they are able to come to the decision on their own, rather than having a third party force the issue.

What are the thoughts of my readers? At what point must the children step in and demand freedom be taken away from the parent to assure their safety? I want to invite you to tell me what you think, and to share your experiences from your own family or friends.