Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Single Woman Ready to Find Love

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every time my mother doesn’t answer her phone, I go into a panic. My family and I moved her into an assisted living facility about a year ago because she wasn’t doing well living on her own. This helps, but when she doesn’t pick up, I can’t help but think the worst. That snowballs into a bad scene. I call everywhere looking for her. So far, I have found her safe each time. What can I do to be less anxious about my mother’s safety? -- Looking Out for Mom, Sarasota, Florida

DEAR LOOKING OUT FOR MOM: Talk to the facility where your mother is staying to learn how they account for their residents. Each place will have its own system of checking on those who live there. One common approach is for the facility to require residents to ring a bell that indicates electronically that they are OK. If the bell isn’t rung by a certain time, the front desk places a call and then sends someone to check if there still isn’t an answer. Find out what happens at your mom’s place.

Build a rapport with the front desk folks. Call them when you are worried, and ask them to find your mom. Schedule specific times each day when you call your mom. If she doesn’t answer or call back, call the building. By defining systems and following those that already exist, you create space for ease.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)