California’s First Lady Maria Shriver calls herself a “child of Alzheimer’s” as the 53-year-old daughter of a man who is suffering from the mentally debilitating disease. Sargent Shriver, an adviser to two presidents and a onetime candidate for vice president, was diagnosed six years ago. Since then, his daughter has become an advocate for better treatments and diagnosis. Her latest effort to spread awareness about the disease is a four-part television series, “The Alzheimer’s Project,” which debuts May 10 on HBO.
Former ABC News correspondent and author Lynn Sherr spoke with Shriver for the Daily Beast. Shriver talks about the realities of juggling motherhood (she and husband Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have four children), career and being a good daughter to parents Eunice and Sargent:
You know, you see women on the cover of the magazines — they have three kids, their bodies are incredible, they have no stress. I mean, we present these perfect images of well-known women to other women, which I think actually makes women feel bad. And makes them feel like, ‘What the hell’s wrong with me? I can’t do all these things and everybody else seems to be able to do it.’
So I’ve tried to speak as authentically as I can, that I don’t have it all together, that the road is bumpy, and I don’t have any shame in sharing that. I find that people are so grateful that you say, ‘Well, I’m having a very difficult time with my parents getting older.’ Or, ‘My parents are struggling and I’m struggling, too.’ Or, ‘I’ve lost my job.’ And all of those things — instead of saying, ‘No problem, I’ve got it all together.’
Click here to read the full Daily Beast interview – where Maria talks about her political views and ambitions, her uncle Ted Kennedy and thoughts on keeping healthy.