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home : columns : dear harriette April 18, 2021

2/15/2021 8:36:00 AM
Adult child wants to encourage mother and other elders

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was just looking back at old photos of my family. A little more than a year ago, we hosted a pretty extravagant party for my mother's birthday. All of her friends came, and it was beautiful to be with everyone. Even though all of her friends are aging, they were doing pretty well.

A year later, after quarantining for so long, it's just terrible how they are. My mother has suffered tremendous memory loss; I'm sure it's due to the isolation. She survived COVID-19 -- as did a few of her friends -- but it took a lot out of them. I want to do something for them to motivate them to live, but we still can't get together. Do you have any ideas? -- Inspiring the Elders

DEAR INSPIRING THE ELDERS: One of the ravages of COVID-19 is social life. This has been difficult to manage, especially for older people. Memory loss is one of many side effects that people have been reporting about their loved ones during this time. If your mother and her friends have access to electronic tablets with screens large enough for them to easily see images on them, you may be able to use technology to create a virtual event for them.

Plan a date and time when everybody joins a videoconferencing call. You can use Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or some other technological platform. For those who are living with adult children, caregivers can help. For those living in retirement communities or nursing homes, ask management to let them borrow a tablet. They should be able to set it up and get everyone together. In this way, the friends can see and talk to each other, preferably prompted by some of you. Don't make the gathering too big. Instead, you may want to organize several smaller groups so that everybody gets a chance to talk.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Dating during COVID-19 sucks. I had just started talking to a guy at school when everything got shut down. We all went home for what turned out to be months. He and I kept "talking" via social media, but it didn't amount to much. Now we are back at college, but it's awkward. I saw him the other day, but students are all keeping our distance. Plus, nothing ever really started with this guy. I thought we might like each other, but we didn't get the chance. Should I ask him if he would like to get together? I liked him enough before to want to get to know him better. He seems nice. I really don't know what to do. -- Next Steps

DEAR NEXT STEPS: If you are interested in this guy, reach out to him and be direct. Remind him that just as you two were getting to know each other last year, the pandemic put a stop to everything. Ask him if he would like to (safely) get together now to do something normal, like see each other in person and talk. Chances are, you will get a simple yes or no. Take it from there.

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.

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