Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: About every other year, my mother travels across the country to spend some time with my husband and me. While she was visiting us last week, we took her to an event with some friends. Toward the end of the evening, I saw my mother browsing in the gift shop at the venue where the event was held. I watched her pick up an item for sale. She held the item behind her purse and then went into the ladies room. When she came out, the gift shop item was no longer with her. I really could not believe what I saw. The next morning, I looked in her purse, and the item was in there. I know for a fact she did not pay for it. My mother is 75 and in good health. I couldn't bring myself to say anything at the time, and now she has returned home and it is really bothering me. Should I say anything to her about this, or should I just leave it alone?--Shocked Daughter
DEAR SHOCKED: The time to have spoken up was while your mother was with you. At least you could have held up the item in question and said, "J'accuse, Mother!" and received some sort of explanation.
This also would have given you the opportunity to at least try to determine whether your mother is absent-minded, suffering from some sort of age-related cognitive disorder (shoplifting is one symptom) or a fully functioning, unrepentant kleptomaniac.
You should definitely discuss this, but first you should listen to what she has to say about the trip; the moment to raise this may present itself organically, in which case she will be more receptive to talking about it.
Otherwise, yes, you'll have to express your shock and try to figure out what is going on with her (and that, of course, is harder from a distance).
I think it is time for you to plan to visit your mother at her home to see more clearly how she is really doing.