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The Ed Asner Interview (Page 2 of 3)

An Interview with Ed Asner

EA:  Observation of an elder parent will help you find out just what is going on.  Talk with them about what they are involved in. And exercise greater caution and care about checking out their mail and checking out what they are responding to and even checking out phone messages.  We do not do enough butting in on parents, within reason.  I know I am so annoyed that in our family of five kids, none of us ever really sat our old man down, or the old lady, and asked what was it like, what did you do? And of my mother in particular—How she lived before she came from Russia and the Ukraine. We never discussed that. 

GB:  I agree with you.  My dad, who passed away about 12 years ago, would be 78 now. When he became ill, I did not want to make him feel that I was talking about the end of his life, yet it could have been a great experience to tape a conversation with him. I think that it is a shame for the next generations to lose that connectivity.  How would you ask your kids to sit down and have this conversation with you?

EA:  My wonderful secretary bought a book which leads the way in what questions to ask.  And unfortunately, every time she asked me a question, I went off for a half hour responding and it became an enormous drag to listen.  And that is what you have got to expect. So I would advise you to buy one of these books.  They are filled with very good questions to stimulate the memory.

GB:  I think it is good because it does stimulate their memory and makes them think about things that may be lost after they are gone; and, of course, it connects us to our past.

EA:  And it engenders in the talker the fact that, done well enough and done fully enough, death will not obliterate them. I think that is a very satisfying thing to have.  It is just that we do not take the time.

GB:  I agree and, like you and I, we do not think about it until after it is too late.

EA:  There was an organization and they got my mother’s youngest sister on audio and videotape. It may not be the most electric piece of video done, but it is there.  It is there to go back to whenever we want.

GB:  It means something to your family. 

EA:  Yes.

GB:  You are obviously still very active in your career and your life.  I am wondering if you have any recommendations for caregivers about helping their aging parents stay healthy, involved, active.

EA:  To the best of your ability, you need to order them about, making plans with them, and get them in the habit of getting up and about and out—checking to be sure what fascinates them at this point in time.

GB:  I think you are right.  We do not stay involved enough.  We do not nudge enough.


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