Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom Needs Support System While Child Is on Work Trip

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am scheduled to travel for work for about a week. I travel for my job, but I have tried to scale back now that my mother is older and has some health issues. This upcoming trip is mandatory. I want to set up a support system for my mother while I am away, but I don’t have any family in my hometown. Do you think it would be all right to speak to a couple of family friends to keep an eye on her? Should I hire someone? -- Help for Mom

DEAR HELP FOR MOM: Evaluate how stable your mother’s health is. That will let you know if you should have medical support on hand, or if friends will be enough. Think about who in your network your mother would trust and who is capable of helping her in ways that will make a difference. Once you identify a couple of people, call them and check in to see if they are willing to help you out. You want to make sure that whoever you choose will be responsible and responsive.

If you cannot find the support you need, see if your mother’s insurance will pay for a visiting nurse service. If not, find out what it will cost for you to arrange for support. You can ask your mother’s doctor or at a local hospital or health center, and you can call her insurance company for referrals.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two friends who want to get married, but both of them are unemployed. They are good, smart people who find themselves struggling like crazy. I feel so bad for them. I know they are trying to get it together, but something always seems to stand in their way. A few friends have been talking about throwing them a wedding party -- something small but nice. Do you think that’s a good idea? We don’t want to interfere with their life together, but they have been talking about marriage for so long, we want to help them make it happen. -- Planning a Wedding

DEAR PLANNING A WEDDING: Your idea is lovely, but it may not be the right idea at this moment. If your friends are struggling for basic needs, a party may not be the best way for them to spend their time or your money.

I recommend that you run the idea by them. Tell them what you have in mind, and ask them if they welcome it. They may want to focus on stabilizing their lives before formally tying the knot. Or they may want to go for it. Take their temperature to see what makes sense for them. Then, honor their desire.

For example, they might appreciate whatever money you were going to spend on a party to help them pay rent or buy food. Or they may be so happy that friends want to help them cross the threshold to marriage that they decide to embrace your idea. Ask them and pay attention so that you are clear about their wishes.

(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.)