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The Debbie Reynolds Interview (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Debbie Reynolds



Legendary star of stage and screen Debbie Reynolds has been enchanting audiences in unforgettable performances for decades. From Singing in the Rain, Tammy and The Unsinkable Molly Brown to the TV series Will and Grace, Debbie has brought joy to generations of fans.

Gary Barg:  You have a unique approach to talking about caregiving. Can you tell me a little about that?

Debbie Reynolds:  I try to get the point across without being too dead-serious, because it is such a difficult subject. Itís life and life is not a bowl of cherries; because if it were, why am I feeling in the pits? My family has a history of longevity; my mom lived to be 82 and my daddy, 83. We all have caregiving situations. Every generation has to take care of the next generation, or not and not care at all. I donít think that itís ďweĒ as a people who feel this way, because most of us want to take care of our loved ones. Not everybody gets to live well towards the end; and because people are living longer, you either have to take them into your home or find a place for them. This type of decision-making can either be life threatening or life making.

GB:  What is your personal experience with caregiving?

DR:  My grandmother lived with my mom and daddy until she went blind, and then my mother became critically ill with a bad heart. My mother started having heart conditions when she was 39, so Iíve been a caregiver since I was 14.  We had to place my grandmother with her other children, who were also very good to her. All this time, my grandmother suffered from osteoporosis and my mother had this heart condition, so my family seems to weather the storms; but they have a lot of health problems that still exist today. This why Iíve been so involved with all these causes. When breast cancer awareness first came out, I was one of the first spokespersons for a test to detect that; and when osteoporosis awareness came out, I became a spokesperson to take tests for this as well.  And then,  the problem of incontinence, or over-active bladder, which I guess just sounds nicer. Both my mother and father were incontinent, and it was the most embarrassing problem for them to overcome. In fact, they never did overcome it. We just had to deal with it, because at that time there was no help. I went to the doctors about it, but there was no pill, there was nothing. It was especially difficult for my father to handle his incontinence.

GB: I was wondering what advice you would have for families who may be just beginning to deal with the issue of incontinence.

DR:  They have to run, not walk, to the doctor. We know that the doctors know of a couple of different pharmaceutical companies that have a pill that can be given to the patient and eliminate the incontinence; not all together, but at least where it can be controlled for long periods of time.  They can actually function and be social and active again; not hide out in their room and not be embarrassed to death. They lose their will to go out because they donít know when theyíre going to have this problem, so they must talk to their doctor. There are at least 17 million people who suffer from this, and thatís only in this country.


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