Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Family Makes Jokes About Niece's Fiance

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is getting up in age, and now she lives in a retirement community. My siblings and I talk to her almost every day and visit often, but she has become needier. I think she is worried that we will forget about her now that she’s living in this place. If I miss a day of talking to her, she guilts me like crazy the next time we speak. I want her to feel safe, comfortable and loved, but it’s hard when she is so needy. How can we get her to chill out? We aren’t going anywhere, but our schedules are busier than hers. Sometimes, for me anyway, I am not as consistent with my calls, but I am in touch with her multiple times a week. How can I get her to relax and enjoy her life? -- Mom in Need

DEAR MOM IN NEED: Find out what activities are available for residents at her retirement community. Encourage your mother to participate in as many daily activities as possible. This will keep her busy and help her to be less focused on you and your siblings. Coordinate with your siblings on a schedule. Since it helps your mother to have regularly timed calls and visits, do your best to honor whatever timetable you create. Consistency may help to alleviate your mother’s worries and reduce the pressure that you and your siblings feel in your support of your mother.

(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.)