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,
Gary Barg: Could
you walk us through that?
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.
Thatís really smart. Thatís a
great lesson for you and for your
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.
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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