AARP: For a time, you, like many in the sandwich generation, juggled simultaneously caring for your kids and your parents. What was that experience like?
Maria Shriver: It’s emotionally challenging trying to raise your kids — and parent your parents at the same time. That’s challenging no matter what economic group you’re in. There’s a gaping hole in my day that was taken up talking to my brothers about my parents, talking to doctors about them, going cross-country, managing stuff. But not a day goes by that I don’t miss my parents. If I had a choice to have them here, I’d do that all again.
Your oldest children have now graduated from college. Are you still really involved in parenting?
MS: I feel that it’s my job on a daily basis to love my four children unconditionally and to focus on them. I still have a son who’s in high school. I work any job around him and his schedule.
You recently went back into television journalism. How does that fit in?
MS: I’m blessed that they let me come back in a limited capacity. My goal is to put my toe back into journalism so that by the time Christopher leaves for college, I’ll have something that I can transition to full time.
Has it been hard to get back into that work?
MS: When you leave your career, it’s hard to find your way back. People move on. Things change. The technology’s different.
You recently hosted a series on Alzheimer’s. What message did you most want to get across?
MS: That Alzheimer’s is a boomers’ disease. And that young people should care about Alzheimer’s because they’re going to end up taking care of their parents — financially, emotionally and physically. It rattles your whole family dynamic, and it’s not something that’s going to happen some other time. It’s happening now — at the rate of every 68 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.
Your NBC beat is women’s issues. Why that focus?
MS: I spent a long time living that beat — being a child of the women’s movement and the mother of daughters who want to do it differently. And that beat includes reports on women and men: men’s changing gender roles; women’s financial, emotional and spiritual health. How we interact with men. How we raise our sons.
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