DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is 80 years old and still working. She has a part-time job as a nurse's aide, a job she has had for most of her adult life. I hate that she has to work as a senior citizen, but I don't make enough money to help her. I was laid off from my job two years ago and barely scrape together enough money to keep my apartment. I do go and cook food for her every week and do my best to spend time with her. What else can I do? -- For My Mother, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
FOR MY MOTHER: Showing your mother how much you love her by paying attention to her regularly is important. She must know you have limited resources, so she doesn't expect you to pay for her. What you can do is look into what government programs exist that may be able to help her. With extremely limited income, as well as her senior status, your mother may be eligible for subsidies that would make it possible for her to stop working. It is not easy to navigate the system, but this is what you can do to help your mother have some comfort in her old age. Go to this article for informational links: bit.ly/HCAging.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into a woman who went to college with me many moons ago. She works at a school where my daughter is applying. When we saw each other, it was pleasant, and we exchanged information. Normally, I'm not one to believe in currying favor, but there's nothing I wouldn't do for my child. How can I follow up with her to learn more about the process without creating an uncomfortable situation? I want her help, but I don't want to make her feel weird about it. -- For My Child, Pittsburgh
DEAR FOR MY CHILD: Assume the positive. You had a pleasant reunion. This is a good sign! Chances are, she will be happy to talk to you about the options available for your daughter. How much she can help is to be determined, but it surely can't hurt to talk to someone on the inside. Follow up with her and let her know you and your daughter are very interested in this school. Ask her if she has insight about the process and recommendations for how you should navigate next steps to help you to have a good chance at being selected. Be transparent with her. Welcome any help she feels comfortable offering -- from general advice to a direct recommendation to those with influence.
By being open and honest about your position, you make it easier for her to give you a direct and honest response. Point out that you think it was serendipity for the two of you to run into each other after so much time.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)