Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my son was not accepted to the college he has been dreaming about for years. He did get accepted to another school, but he is devastated. How can I support him through this? -- Sympathetic Mom, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SYMPATHETIC MOM: Remind your son of the victory of being accepted to college. Encourage him to reach out to his favorite school and find out why he wasn't accepted. Occasionally schools will provide feedback. If he gets it, this may help him to shore up areas that may not be as strong as he might like.

Give him context, no matter what. Many more applicants typically want to attend a given school than the school can accept. He is not alone in this tough rejection.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In today's paper, I read your column about a woman whose 80-year-old mother calls her three times a day at work.

As someone who has recently overseen the care of three elderly family members, I think your suggestion to find local senior centers for the mother was a good start, but it may be missing the mark. If the mother forgets that she should not call during the day, that is a big sign. Often we are in denial about the decline of our parents for any number of reasons.

It is time for this mom to be assessed by a doctor and to receive help in moving to a senior living apartment (with meals and social amenities) or assisted living. Also, she should get power of attorney and health-care proxies in order.

Most people wait too long for this step and suffer needlessly with boredom, neglect or worse. Making the move or change while still somewhat cognizant is a huge benefit to all.

I wish I had moved my mother sooner. She now lives in a very nice assisted living home; I call her daily or more, and visit her at least weekly. There are more activities than she can ever attend, and she has made new friends among the residents and the staff. She is eating well, receives her medicines on time and is cared for and happy.

Please inform your reader that it is time to step up and check out her mom's situation. She will get peace of mind, and her mother will remain engaged, safe and happy.

Numerous resources are available to help people learn how to afford such care. In our area, Eldersource is a good resource. Some assisted living homes offer a limited number of Medicaid beds (get on the wait list), and Veterans Affairs offers Aid and Attendance to veterans and their spouses. -- Been There, Rochester, N.Y.

DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for your suggestions. The bottom line is that when we are lucky enough to have our elders in our lives, we are also responsible for paying attention to their needs.

One thing that younger people can do now in preparing for the future is to purchase long-term care insurance before they need it. For more information, visit