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How Glen Campbell Helped Erase the Stigma of an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

What Glen Campbell Taught Us About Alzheimer's DiseaseEarlier this summer, country music star, Glen Campbell, lost his six-year battle with Alzheimer’s at the age of 81. Though his diagnosis was not unique—placing him in a group of 5.5 million Americans who are currently living with the disease—his and his family’s candidness about the realities of the disease has become an inspiration. Among his numerous notable accomplishments, there is no doubt that his battle with Alzheimer’s leaves a significant mark on us all including the many victims of the disease and their caregivers.

Instead of hiding his fatal diagnosis from the world, Glen did the opposite and put a spotlight on a debilitating disease that affects so many people by agreeing to a final musical tour and creating a documentary about his struggles in living with the disease.

Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be an isolating condition. When someone is diagnosed with the disease, it can affect everyone around him or her, especially those closest to the victim who may be responsible for full-time caregiving. Many people may retreat into a private world where they suffer alone because they feel that there is a negative stigma associated with being in public with the symptoms and consequences of Alzheimer’s. However, through the efforts to raise awareness of the disease by celebrities such as Glen Campbell, the hope is that more people will ask and receive the help that they may need to create a higher quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and those who are closest to them.

Openness and Honesty with a Devastating Diagnosis

Glen Campbell’s willingness to openly discuss his diagnosis with the world can be an inspiration to others who may have recently received their own diagnosis. So many times, patients and caregivers feel loneliness when they receive news that there is a dementia diagnosis, but there’s comfort in knowing that others have been through the same thing. By being honest about the deterioration of your health, or the health of a loved one, it can mean opening yourself up to the support of additional friends and family.

Don’t suffer alone! Take the lead from Glen and his family, and find comfort in knowing that there are resources available for patients and their caregivers, and you don’t have to hide from the world due to a life-changing diagnosis.

Kim Campbell: A Caregiver’s Journey

Glen’s wife, Kim, chronicles her journey as a caregiver in parts of Glen’s 2014 documentary Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me and through her continued advocacy work for Alzheimer’s research and awareness. Her honesty about the difficulties of full-time caregiving can serve as a way to connect with other caregivers, and also offer insights and advice to those who may think they are misunderstood in their own day-to-day activities of caring for someone with dementia.

In a touching interview with USA Today, Kim speaks about feeling lonely even when Glen was sitting next to her due to the fact that the disease had turned their conversations stale, and his memory of their past was slipping. These are real feelings that other spouses and family members of Alzheimer’s patients may also feel. Sometimes patients may become violent, paranoid, or suspicious, but there are ways that you can cope with loving someone who doesn’t always seem to be him or herself.

Depression and anxiety are common in caregivers, and through public stories like Kim’s, there is a hope that caregivers will not feel guilt for their own sufferings. Caregivers often give up their own lives to care for their loved one, so it’s important for them to know that there are others who understand, and there are resources available to help them in their caregiving journey.

In her interview, Kim said, “I want to let people know that there’s hope out there, there’s help out there, they don’t have to do this alone,” Kim says. “They can’t do it alone. It will take you down.”

Alzheimer’s is a Disease that Can Affect Anyone

When Glen’s doctor was interviewed by Today, he made the point that his patient’s diagnosis proves that this disease can affect anyone, regardless of his/her background, intelligence, or occupation. Though Glen was able to live six years after his initial diagnosis, the life expectancy for an Alzheimer’s patient can be anywhere from two to eight years. It’s important to help your loved one maintain the highest level of quality of life while they endure the struggle of living with Alzheimer’s. Oftentimes, that may mean providing care for them in their own homes where they are comfortable and most peaceful.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, please know that you are not alone. There are great resources to help caregivers cope with the intricacies of caregiving and create the most comfortable living situation for their loved one. At 24/7 Nursing Care, we have experienced around-the-clock or part-time caregivers who provide top-level service in your own home. Contact us for more information about our Alzheimer’s and dementia care professionals.

 

References:

Garde, D. (2017, August 09). Glen Campbell’s doctor discusses his public struggle with Alzheimer’s. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from https://www.statnews.com/2017/08/09/glen-campbell-alzheimers/

Tennessean, J. B. (n.d.). Glen Campbell’s wife to other Alzheimer’s caregivers: You are not alone. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/nation-now/2017/08/08/glen-campbells-wife-other-alzheimers-caregivers-youre-not-alone/551086001/

Press, K. M. (n.d.). Glen Campbell’s public Alzheimer’s battle set his legacy. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/glen-campbells-public-alzheimers-battle-set-legacy-49103974

Pawlowski, A. (2017, August 09). Glen Campbell’s doctor: Star was ‘striking example’ of Alzheimer’s quirks. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from https://www.today.com/health/glen-campbell-s-doctor-explains-alzheimer-s-effect-musician-t114895