One of the best perks of having a career on television is that my mom has always been able to “see me work.” A California girl, I moved east to New York City to go to work for ABC-TV. My mom never had any desire to follow, she loves sunny California. Interestingly though, although she lived on the other side of the country, she never felt too disconnected from me since every morning she would wake up and her “Joni” was always right there in her home with her on Good Morning America. Frankly, my biggest disappointment as I left GMA after 20 years was thinking about how she wouldn’t have her “Joni” fix every morning.
These days my mom, who is now 91 years old, is living in a wonderful small private home care facility where they are loving and nurturing and she is content and enjoying pretty good health for someone her age. I always call and let her know every time I am going to be “on the air.” She and the other five residents of “Ashley Manor” gather around the TV with their caregivers and they all applaud when I come on. That’s a job perk that is priceless.
Yesterday was no different, my built in cheering section was right there in front of their TV set watching as I sold my home décor line, Joan Lunden Home throughout the day on QVC. This morning I heard from James the very nice gentleman who runs “Ashley Manor” how they all enjoyed my appearances, and how my mom, as always, was so proud and excited to see her daughter in action.
He added: “Also please know that as of yesterday your mom is the reigning bingo champion. I think she fought hard to win because the prizes were all dark chocolate, her favorite.” You go mom – keep that strong competitive spirit going! Now I should also note that another incentive might have been at play in this competition. There’s a new resident at Ashley Manor, a younger man named Joe (he’s three months younger than mom). They have taken quite a liking to each other, and I feel that it’s actually been a boost to my mom’s health. Their friendship has given my mom not only companionship but someone to “take care” of and “to be concerned about” – yes that female caretaker instinct kicked in and in this case proved to be a motivating factor in getting her out of bed each morning and into action. Bingo! Just what the doctor ordered – a heart healthy dose of friendship, and a pinch of... well maybe that’s a little far-fetched.
On Monday November the 22nd my faithful audience will once again be poised in front of the TV as I host a special series on RLTV called “Taking Care with Joan Lunden.” The programs are about the challenges of Caregiving, needless to say something close to my heart and something that 65 million Americans face each and every day. This month of November is National Family Caregiver Month and the RLTV series will air in homes as Americans gather as families to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is truly my honor to be a part of this project which brings together top experts in the caregiving field to help families care for their loved ones. Whether you care for a family member in your home or from afar, it is a challenging yet immensely rewarding role. I invite you all to watch, as a family, so that we can help you prepare for and manage your journey through Caregiving. Check your local listing for RLTV Taking Care with Joan Lunden airing Nov 22nd-25th, 8pm EST.