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The Amy Grant Interview (Page 1 of 2)

Amy Grantís career spans over 25 years and stretches from her roots in gospel to an iconic pop star, songwriter, television personality and philanthropist. Grant has sold more than 30 million albums and won six Grammys in multiple categories, beginning with the platinum selling Age to Age in 1982. She has six #1 hits, including  "Baby, Baby" and "Every Heartbeat", and is one of only two Christian artists to be awarded a star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame. Amy Grant is also a wife, mother, sister and daughter who joined with her family to create a loving framework to care for her parents living with dementia. Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg sat down with Amy for a wide-ranging interview tracing her journey as a partner in care with her sisters as they cared for both parents.

Gary Barg: Like so many family caregivers, you and your sisters have been caring for both parents at the same time and now, for just your dad. Thatís never easy. Can you tell me about caregiving for your mom and dad?

Amy Grant: When I came back from a really busy touring schedule in the fall of 2008, I realized my parents were declining, especially my mom.  She was so frail, it was shocking. And so I canceled everything for 2009óall work, all travel, and tried to be home. I tried to do special things with my parents, helping my mom with bathing and getting dressed. About that time, one of my sisters and her husband moved in with my parents. And so, we were just kind of slowly circling the wagons. But dementia is such a different player. Weíve had in-house relatives before. Both my grandmothers lived with my two older sisters in the last three years of their lives, but dementia made it impossible to just carry on in any normal way. Eventually, we had to get round-the-clock care for my mom.

Gary Barg: Your parents did something that a lot of people unfortunately donít do. They did a great job of preparing.

Amy Grant: Yes, they did.

Gary Barg: Could you walk us through that?

Amy Grant: Basically, my father took out long-term care insurance and he put money in a savings account that provided us the materials we would need to care for him.

Gary Barg: Thatís really smart.  Thatís a great lesson for you and for your kids.

Amy Grant: Yes, I know, and I have really been talking to people about this Ďcause you know, my sisters Kathy and Mimi and Carol and I looked at each other and we thought, Oh my goodness! We thought the biggest gift would be to help our kids through education. Now, you know to provide for ourselves, thatís just such a different message for our generation because we have not been a saving generation. But itís never too late to start working on a plan; and I think in these financial times, I donít know a family that has not worked hard to simplify. But the real elephant in the room, for all of us and for every family, is just when that shift starts. You know, when we realized that all of these different things were making us scratch our heads like what are Mom and Dad doing? What did she have on when she came to the door? Why did my father make this purchase or talk to this person on the phone? Oh my gosh! We were putting out all these little fires, and then we realized that dementia was at play.

And so while they still had enough mental faculties, we went to them and said this is what we see at work. And please trust us. We need to communicate right now about what matters to you and youíre going to have to trust us to carry it out. Pretty early on, we got our parents to turn over the power of attorney to my two older sisters. There were lots of conversations and lots of time spent together. All those communications are so important. Weíve learned so many amazing life lessons through this.

Gary Barg: I always call these Board of Directorsí Meetings, where you and your family sit down and discuss the hands-on business thatís caring for your loved one.

Amy Grant: Absolutely! And itís emotional. You know, through the end of life, through death, we have a lot of opportunities to heal unresolved thingsóto forgive, to let go.  I think when I was a kid, I was not aware of the fact that all this was happening with the much older generations. Itís really eye-opening. But you know, itís all part of life.


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