A Matter of Tough Love | Is it Time to Take the Keys?


The word “love” carries a lot of weight. When you profess it, you’re also supposed to show it. You’re supposed to show it, even if it isn’t always easy. Sometimes you even have to prove it. That’s when tough love and unconditional love come into the picture. This Valentine’s Day, ask yourself if you can be tough when it comes to making the right decision for a loved one’s long-term care.

Below, I share a short story of why I think tough love is sometimes mandatory.

We were driving home from a weekend away to cheer on our Georgia Bulldogs in Baton Rouge. Tired from a tough loss and a long drive, we were still committed to show our unconditional love of our Bulldogs the next UGA gameday. The sun was setting and I could see cars ahead slowing down as they hit their brakes. I assumed it was the glare from the late afternoon sun. As I drove closer, I noticed it was another car causing the slowdown. An elderly lady was driving towards us on the wrong side of the interstate. And, she wasn’t stopping; even as other cars honked and tried to block her.

In an instant, I decided something needed to be done. I made sure others had stopped behind me and I jumped out, waving my arms to get her attention. When she rolled down her window, she was clearly disoriented and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get home.”

After we safely guided her back off the interstate, I realized she probably had sun downers. It’s the condition where those suffering from dementia regress more in the evenings and are easily confused by tasks that were a normal part of their routines. Because of this one incident, it may be time for her family to make a tough-love decision to take her keys…for her safety and for others.

I share this story in hopes of getting more families to consider what it means to plan for long-term care; for themselves and their loved ones. As we age, it’s important to prepare, pay attention and know what to look out for. As we notice changes and possible signs of impending incapacitation, we can begin taking steps. These steps can include setting up a guardianship, power of attorney, healthcare directive, conservatorship, etc. These tools are available to help families navigate changes and make decisions. 

The Ruffin Firm is here to assist you in utilizing these tools and navigate what can be a confusing and difficult time for loving families. Learn more about our practice areas and schedule a consultation to find the best fit for your family. Visit www.theruffinfirm.com.