Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) — Glen Campbell is a Grammy-winning country music icon, but his wife Kim Campbell says one of the most important things the legend has done in his life is to “help remove the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Glen was diagnosed with the disease in 2011, went public and embarked on a farewell tour with his family, including his wife and their three children — Cal, Shannon and Ashley — which ended in 2012. Kim said the experience touring with their father only brought the immediate family closer together and really shed light on the disease.
“I’m so proud of the kids and the time we had on the road during the goodbye tour,” she told ABC News. “It was such a gift to us to be able to celebrate his life. They learned so much from him … not only as a musician, but as a human being.”
The tour was featured in the documentary Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me and Kim said her daughter Ashley “actually wrote a song for her dad in the documentary called Remembering. I’m hoping in the summer, it will be played on the radio, so we are excited about that. The documentary is uplifting and positive.”
That’s the message Kim wants to spread.
“A lot of people are afraid if it’s Alzheimer’s in the subject, it’s going to be very depressing,” she said. “It’s something people have kept under the covers and felt like they needed to be discrete about, but it’s a disease that affects 5.4 million people in the United States and almost every single family is touched with it, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. People rally around you and want to give you all the support that’s possible.”
For that reason, she has continued her husband’s work of raising awareness for the disease, while he cannot.
Kim spoke to ABC News in conjunction with “Celebrating Hope,” an event taking place Friday night, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter, at Richards of Grennwich. Kim will share her story and inspire others at the event, which starts at 6:30 p.m.
The Campbell family just celebrated Glen’s 79th birthday on April 22, and Kim said “it was a really good day.”
“The kids and I went [to see him],” she said. “He was a little sleepy at first, but we brought him burgers and fries, his favorite food. Once he got up and moving around, he was just having a great day.”
Campbell is unable to communicate more than just a few, short sentences, but that doesn’t stop him from cracking jokes.
“He was communicating better than I’ve seen him in a long time that day,” she said. “We were sitting there eating ice cream cake and he told the punch line to one of his jokes. Then, I told the set up for it. He just laughed and laughed and laughed.”
She continued, “He’s still got his same twinkle in his eye … he just has trouble communicating now and of course his memory. We had a great day filled with laughter, love and hugs … you have to make the most out of each moment you have with him.”
With Campbell now in a long-term care facility since March of last year, the support community has helped Kim exponentially, as well as her husband.
“It’s really sad to be losing the one you love day by day, drip by drip, there’s nothing you can do about it though. I go to bed depressed, I wake up depressed, but you have to tell yourself ‘I have so much to be thankful for.’ … I’m visiting Glen everyday in the memory support community, I know all the other patients and their families, we are a community and I try to be a blessing to them everyday too.”
She continued, “I have been blessed with such a great family … when the doctors advised me Glen would really benefit from being in a support community for people with cognitive issues, I tried it out and it made a big difference for his happiness and his well-being. We can’t do anything about the disease, but we can try and make life as good as possible. It’s helped me too with my depression, because now my support team is even bigger. That’s given me the piece of mind to be able to go out and speak about it.”
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