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 An Interview with Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich

Today's Caregiver Magazine July/August 2009Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich have been married since 1962 and are both accomplished stage, film and television actors. Olympia is an Academy Award® winner for her role in Moonstruck and Louis is well known for his role as Burt Buchman in the 1990’s situation comedy Mad About You.  They join us to talk about their lives after Louis’ recent diagnoses with Stage 2 diabetes, which was discovered after a regular medical examination. Olympia and Louis sit down with Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg to laugh, share and talk about family caregiving as well as the importance of taking advantage of Medicare’s free Diabetes screening benefit for all caregivers.


Gary: I know you were with both recently screened for diabetes; and you found out that Louis has type II diabetes?
 
Louis: That is right.  When the doctor told me, I did not believe him. All of my brothers and sisters have diabetes and I thought I am free; it is not going to hit me.  But then all of a sudden, he said “Yes, you have it” and there you are; I am dealing with it.
 
Gary: Well what does it mean that you have it and why is it important to even know your status?
 
Louis: Well, I certainly have changed some things about how I eat.  Whenever Olympia and I have a choice of foods, she always goes towards salty things and I naturally gravitate toward something sweet. I said, is it possible that I have been eating too many sweets?  So I have been trying to cut down on that and a few other things.  I have always watched my diet, but now it is almost like I am a detective.  I look at everything I eat and I write down what I eat, too – I am very, very careful.
 
Gary: When you did the diabetes screening, did you do it through your doctor?
 
Louis:  Yes. I get regular screenings maybe two or three times a year; and a few days after one, he told me that I was diabetic. I was rather surprised, but then he gave me some stuff and I am doing okay.  But, it was like something out of left field.
 
Olympia: What is interesting is that Louis paid for all of his screenings. We are trying to let people know that if they have certain risk factors, which Louis had, such as his family having a history of diabetes, his screenings could have been free. We want to alert people to this and let them know that there is a website, askscreenknow.com, where they can get more information about themselves and the blood sugar number test itself, as well as what actions they might take.
 
Gary: Louis, how are you doing with your diagnosis?  What has changed in your life since you have been diagnosed?
 
Louis: Nothing has changed.  I am working and I am very optimistic and – is it okay to say I am 85 years old and I am still working?  I closed in a show two months ago and people send me scripts to read; in fact, I am going to do a couple of independent films in the near future.  I can live a normal life, which is remarkable.  I am living a normal life thanks to information that I got and the way I take care of myself.
 
Olympia: Well, for me, caregiving with Louis is a whole different situation than it was with my mother. Louis is so knowledgeable and so determined to manage his life, to eat properly and exercise. Actually with my mother, I was in denial.  My son said to me at one point, “Gigia (which is what you call your grandmother in Greek) is not eating” and I said “Well, she is not hungry.”  And he said “No, she is not eating; this is not good.”  And I said “Well, you know when you get older, you do not eat as much.”  Listen to my conversation.  I mean, my son was trying to alert me to something.  And then I finally said, “Well, if you think she is not eating, then you go wake her up (since she was sleeping inordinately) and cook for her and get her to eat.”  And he did that.  She got up and she ate.  And she said to me later on, when he went out of the room, she said to me in Greek, “He is a clever boy.” And I thought, yeah, he is clever; he knows more than his mother does, certainly.  He was not in denial about it.

 

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