Sargent Shriver's son to speak in Pittsburgh about ravages of Alzheimer's

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

With a last name that carries some expectations, Mark Shriver is continuing the family legacy through his work with children and his book about his struggle to deal with his father's Alzheimer's disease.

It is in the second capacity that he will speak tonight at the annual meeting of the Jewish Association on Aging at Rodef Shalom Congregation, Fifth Avenue in Shadyside. The 7 p.m. event is free to the public.

"I'm coming to celebrate the work the agency has done and reinforce the critical value of caring for the elderly," Mr. Shriver said. "It's not glamorous or lucrative, but it's so important. A society is judged by how it takes care of its most vulnerable.

"The Jews call it tikkun olam, repairing the world. Christians call it heeding the Gospel's call."

Either way, he said, "It's God's work and should be applauded and supported."

Mr. Shriver, a former Maryland lawmaker and telecommunications executive, is the son of Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, now run by his brother Timothy.

At age 49, he lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife, Jeanne, and their three children, ages 15, 13 and 8.

In 2003 he became senior vice-president of U.S. operations for Save the Children. Last year, he published "A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver."

"Taking care of my mom and my dad for the last 10 years of their lives, I learned a lot about the Fifth Commandment to honor thy mother and father," he said.

"It's not easy. Moving your folks out of the house or apartment, taking their keys away, figuring out how to ask for help and worrying if [putting them in] assisted living makes you a bad son or daughter -- you've got to give yourself a break. We need to realize we're giving love and doing the best we can, not feel guilty or beat ourselves over the head because it's not perfect."

The book, he said, "is about a son trying to figure out how his father lived his life with such joy and the lessons I learned from him about dealing with the struggles of life, including taking care of him with Alzheimer's.

"It's a brutal disease for the person suffering with it, their family and friends. It's emotionally and financially draining and devastating. But I also believe that I experienced moments of insight and joy with dad as he declined. Those have enriched by life and taught me how to be a better dad, husband and friend."

Sally Kalson: or 412-263-1610.

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?