DEAR HARRIETTE: My 85-year-old mother has a suitor! She recently moved into a retirement community, and there's a gentleman there who has taken a fancy to her. She sounds all bubbly on the phone when she talks about him. I am happy for her, but I feel like the mother of a teenager.
I don't want this man to take advantage of my mother. She hasn't had a partner for decades. My dad died years ago and she dated many years back, but I worry. What if he hurts her feelings? What if he also is "courting" someone else in the community? Am I crazy to be so overprotective of her? How can I support my mother? -- Senior Dating, Miami
DEAR SENIOR DATING: Relax. Let your mother enjoy this moment of flirtation and attention. What's amazing to me is that people can continue to enjoy the excitement of romance -- on a variety of levels -- even when they are older. Yes, the body slows down and cannot always do what it could when you were young, but the mind and spirit often still want to dance!
Encourage your mother to enjoy herself. If she is inclined to any type of sexual activity, be the mother of the teenage senior, and remind her to use protection. Believe it or not, senior citizens have high rates of sexually transmitted infections, so she does have to be careful.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends have invited me to a pool party for the end of the summer, and I am thinking about not going. I cannot swim, and I haven't put on a bathing suit since I was in my 20s. I am now in my 50s, and let me tell you, this body does not need to be showcased poolside! I already know that we are all aging and we shouldn't be so self-conscious. Blah, blah, blah! I don't care what others say. Nobody needs to see what I've got under all my clothes. How can I hang out with my friends without having to get nearly naked? I don't want to miss out, but I won't be comfortable if I have to squeeze into a swimsuit. -- Menopausal Sausage, Chicago
DEAR MENOPAUSAL SAUSAGE: Give yourself a break! Chances are, your friends, at least some of them, are not ready to walk the runway at a Miss America contest. No matter what you look like, you deserve to enjoy being in your friends' company and having a great time as the summer ends. Do what most women do. Buy a fancy coverup that you can wear over your swimsuit. Or forget the swimsuit and wear lightweight clothing -- a loose-fitting sundress, a T-shirt and shorts or a skirt and flip flops. You can sit poolside, sip drinks, eat and have fun with your friends. Trust that not everybody is getting in the pool. Let the pool be the backdrop for your fun.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)