SAN DIEGO, July 22, 2014 — Singer, songwriter and actor, Glen Campbell publicly announced he was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease in June, 2011.
Campbell admitted he had been diagnosed six months before his courageous announcement.
An active and successful performer since 1958, Campbell was accomplished in vocals, guitar, banjo, bass and the bagpipes. Campbell’s unfortunate Alzheimer’s diagnosis prompted a determination to utilize his many talents until he was no longer able to, by recording what was to have been his final record and then going on tour.
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According to Campbell, an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient at the time of his interview with People magazine, “I’m going to be right in the middle of a sentence–and it just goes.”
Campbell’s post-diagnosis album release, Ghost on a Canvas, was received by his fans with great support and acclaim.
Later, he became an advocate of the Alzheimer’s disease cause testifying in Washington, D.C. on the critical need to increase Alzheimer’s research.
Likely his farewell album, See You There, was released in 2013, the same year that he announced his retirement.
Today, the 78-year old talented country legend is a resident in an Alzheimer’s treatment facility, after it became evident that 24-hour care in his home would no longer be adequate to care for him due to his rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s.
Campbell’s poignant journey with Alzheimer’s disease progression is unfortunately common.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Further, it is reported that someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease every 67 seconds.
Alzheimer’s disease has become pervasive world-wide and appears to be an epidemic. Over 30 million global citizens over the age of 60 are stricken with this debilitating disease, and it is likely to double in numbers over the next 20-30 years.
Negatively affecting the brain’s ability to properly function cognitively, it impairs memory, thinking, reasoning and behavior.
Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library describes the following symptoms which are classic signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease:
-Forgetting important information and dates.
-Asking the same information again and again.
-Difficulty solving basic problems.
-Losing track of the date or time of the year.
-Losing track of current location or reason for being there.
-Difficulty with depth perception or other visual problems.
-Misplacing things and not being able to retrace steps to find them.
-Increasingly poor judgment.
-Withdrawal from work and social situations.
-Changes in mood or personality.
If anyone experiences several of these symptoms, or recognizes them in others, immediately seek medical advice from a qualified physician.
Diagnosing whether or not Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for any of the symptoms experienced requires an extensive physical examination, laboratory tests, mental health and cognitive screening, and a complete MRI or CT scan of the brain.
Ruling out other possible disease processes or health issues, such as a stroke, brain tumor, and the like is imperative to ascertain a proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Usually finally diagnosed by a neurologist specializing in the disease, treatment may include one of several medications which can help slow-down the disease process.
Alzheimer’s disease is incurable and progressive.
Once a diagnosis is established, it will likely be deemed illegal to operate a motor vehicle indefinitely, which is an oftentimes a painful part of the reality of living with Alzheimer’s.
As traumatic and disheartening as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is, families need to find the courage and strength to work together, planning for the inevitable future created by the unstoppable progression of this horrible disease.
Critical matters such as health care, housing, caregiving, legal issues, financial decisions and more must be determined and put in place for the best-interests of the family member and the entire family–ideally when the diagnosis is considered early-onset and there is the opportunity for the patient to participate and have a voice in the choices being made.
It is important to remain as engaged in life as possible throughout the progression of this disease, while maintaining optimal health, exercise, activities and relationships.
Maintaining well-being, safety and quality of life is also critical.
Glen Campbell is a shining example of courage. He chose to live life fully during the early-onset period of Alzheimer’s disease, sharing his journey with the rest of the world through his incredible musical gifts.
Though Campbell remains in an Alzheimer’s facility his performance following his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis will likely be remembered as his greatest act and most lasting legacy.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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