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The Kate Mulgrew Interview (Page 2 of 4)

An Interview with Kate Mulgrew

Kate Mulgrew:  To understand that they must take care of themselves.  To understand how appreciated and important they are.  I think they just do not get it because nobody tells them.  A lot of them are treated like indentured servants and it is just absolute nonsense.  Iíd like somebody else to try it.  I did it and failed, but I watched my motherís caregiver with absolute amazement.  These caregivers are extraordinary.  It is a great gift.

Gary Barg:  You talk about your motherís caregiver, and how she made even the rituals special.  What did you mean by that?

Kate Mulgrew:  Everything she did was excellent.  Everything was beautiful.  It was not just an egg.  It was an egg with a flower in a cup on a perfect doily with a linen napkin.  It was a crystal glass.  It was bubble baths.  In the distant recesses of what was left of her brain, my mother responded to that.  I think if you add this note of grace, the burden will be lightened. Caregiving is not fun; but I think if you say to yourself, I am going to do this with the hands of an artist, you lift it all up.

Gary Barg:  Did you learn new ways to communicate with your mom once Alzheimerís disease started progressing; different ways of reaching her, talking and sharing with her, and making her feel better?

Kate Mulgrew:  Well, of course, you do that for as long as you can.  A lot of it is instinctive, right?  It is the same language we communicated with when I could not speak, when I was a little, tiny baby and she was the mother.  So, all of this is very primitive.  It comes back when she is relegated to that position, and then you just go to that very fundamental place.  But in the end, when there was absolutely no cognitive, I would just stare at her and hold her.  I touched her, and I could see the level of isolation; that is the closest word.

Gary Barg:  I agree with it.  I think love is the last thing that goes.  Touch; people always need to be touched and held. When my mom would walk into the room, my grandfather, who was pretty much at the end stage of Alzheimerís, would smile.  So these are things we cannot ignore.  You talked earlier about getting families together, the brothers, the sisters; not just having one person be tag, you are it, the caregiver.  Do you have any advice on that?

Kate Mulgrew:  Right.  Well, there is a reason why it usually falls to the oldest daughter.  She understands this kind of service.  She is not afraid of it and she accepts it, having been the surrogate mother herself; but she will get tired very quickly.  I think the group to appeal to are the men.  This is a group that needs to be educated.  There are exceptions, of course, but most men are problem solvers and they think that they can solve it.  They cannot.  They have to accept it.  


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