Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom With Dementia Needs Full-Time Support

DEAR HARRIETTE: My father passed away seven years ago. After he died, my mother came to live with my family and me. Because my children have essentially grown up with her living with them since they were babies, their relationship is nothing less than amazing. My kids look to her for advice and support, and they love her dearly. Unfortunately, last year my mother was diagnosed with dementia, and in the past few months it has become progressively worse.

With my husband and me working full-time jobs and the kids in school, we have reached a place where we are unable to give her the care that she needs. I have made the decision to move her into a nursing home; however, I am so scared to tell my kids. They are still relatively young and have not dealt with her dementia diagnosis very well. They feel that if we send her to a nursing home, we are “giving up on her.” How do I get my kids to understand that in order to help her, we need to move her? I am worried that her daily absence will hurt my kids. -- Dementia in the Family, Baltimore

DEAR DEMENTIA IN THE FAMILY: You have to control the narrative. Explain to your children and your mother that it is time for her to live in a place that offers more support and that you will see her frequently. Do your best to establish a regular visitation schedule. Perhaps every Saturday or Sunday, you and the children can go to visit your mother. Bring her to your home for a family meal on the weekends. This consistency should help everyone. You will also need to talk to your children about the inevitable memory loss that is affecting your mother. Do not scare them, but let them know that your mother may be forgetful sometimes. Make sure they know that this doesn’t mean she has stopped loving them.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have never been overweight, but I have also never been happy with how I look. When I was a child, I played sports regularly and ate well. In college, I loved taking different workout classes and trying new diets, which is why my weight fluctuated a little bit. Now I work a 9-to-5 job and rarely get to work out. I usually eat pretty healthy, unless I am tempted to pick up a burger on the way home or order something extravagant at a restaurant.

I want to get back into a good workout regimen, but I’m not sure where to start. Do you think it’s easier to work out with a friend? Work out in the mornings or evenings? I want to get into a schedule so I can stay on top of my weight. -- When to Work Out, Seattle

DEAR WHEN TO WORK OUT: Having a buddy can be helpful to jump-start your workout regimen. What’s most important, though, is building fitness into your schedule. See if you can get up an hour earlier and go to a local gym. Conversely, you can work out immediately after work. Pick a time and then commit to three to five days a week for starters. Track your progress over a month. Then recommit for another month.

(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.)