Jun 022017
 

My husband, country music star Glen Campbell, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. In 2014, the documentary film “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” shared Glen’s 151-concert “Goodbye Tour” with millions of people. It was empowering to share our family’s story with the world, but it was just the beginning of our continuing journey with this devastating disease.

Throughout his life, Glen demonstrated how the power of love, laughter, friendship, faith and music helped him overcome many obstacles. I am determined to continue sharing his message with the world through my website, www.CareLiving.org, where others can find hope, humor and direction from my own experiences as well as through guest articles and posts from doctors, specialists, friends and fellow caregivers.

Don’t Become The Second Victim

Beyond the inherent depression of caregiving, it can also be financially and emotionally devastating for many families. Husbands, wives and children often become the second victim of the disease. Although the experience can strain a family in many ways, it can also be a blessing when you change your perspective and search for hope and inspiration amid the sorrow.

Alzheimer’s has opened up a whole world of new friendships and peers for me. I’ve built up a support group of caregivers who have become some of my best friends and who help me get through these tough times with positivity and determination. I’ve also been introduced to doctors and experts whose tireless work and research provide the much-needed optimism that a cure is on the horizon.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s website was the first place I went to for information when Glen was diagnosed. I was at home with nowhere to turn when I opened up my computer and went to Google to search for help and learn more about the disease. Finding www.alz.org was a godsend; I think it’s one of the best web resources out there, and I am so happy to have found it.

Music City Cares

Our participation within the Nashville music community, as well as with the Alzheimer’s community, has created a perfect pairing leading up to the Disco Party. Thanks to Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, this event will be a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of both Alzheimer’s and the plight of caregivers. Brad appeared in “I’ll Be Me,” and I was deeply inspired by Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s book about her mother who died of Alzheimer’s. They both care so much about this cause, and we all want to support the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you’ve been affected by Alzheimer’s, help us “turn the beat around” at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Sunday, June 4 to help raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association and to see what happens when disco meets country!

 

About the Author: Kim Campbell has been married to country/pop star Glen Campbell for 35 years. As a devoted mother, wife and caregiver, Kim has made it her mission to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families. In 2016, she launched www.CareLiving.org, a website to provide information, inspiration and hope to caregivers.

 

 

May 012017
 

This Wednesday, May 3, a tribute concert will be performed at Carnegie Hall in honor of Grammy-winning songwriter, composer and singer Jimmy Webb. Art Garfunkel, Ashley Campbell, Toby Keith, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Marilyn McCoo and Dwight Yoakam are among the artists joining Jimmy onstage to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and the I’ll Be Me Fund in honor of Jimmy’s friend of 50 years, Glen Campbell. We spoke to Jimmy about the event, his experience watching Glen’s battle with Alzheimer’s and thoughts on the importance of music in every person’s life.

Congratulations on the tribute, Jimmy! Can you tell us what music you’ll be performing or what songs may be featured?

I’m into this event up to my neck and I am happy as I can be! I can’t reveal too much, but I can tell you that the artist or artists most associated with each of my songs will be performing them – and there will be some surprises, too.

I’ll be performing some duets, including “If These Walls Could Speak” with Graham Nash, and I will be playing piano with Art Garfunkel on “All I Do”, which was his No.1 record. Amy Grant, who I absolutely adore, will be joining me on “Adios.”  There is a lot to look forward to.

Proceeds from this tribute will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. How do you think this event will help raise concern and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease?

I am so proud that the Alzheimer’s Association and the I’ll Be Me Alzheimer’s Fund will be the benefactors of this event.  I never have a moment’s hesitation in giving my personal testimony about what I have witnessed through Glen Campbell’s life and his family’s life since his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I never really understood the disease until Glen’s diagnosis; now I hardly think about anything else.

Carnegie Hall is a great touchstone – an American monument, really – and to hold this event there is especially significant, showing that the music community is really active and truly cares about changing the course and effects of this disease. There will be a huge diversity of artists onstage – it won’t be “just country” or “just pop.” We’ve tried to embrace all kinds of people with this event in presenting the event to the public and making it possible for people of more modest means to attend. We want everyone to raise funds and enjoy this event.

Congratulations on your new memoir The Cake and the Rain.” As a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and as a Grammy winner, what mark do you think you’ve left on the music scene?

I believe in traditional songwriting – a good core structure, a beautiful melody and lyrics that are accessible to people. I want my music to reach into their hearts and communicate emotions that they perhaps don’t find easy to express, and I hope that it can be a go-between for them to say what they really want to say to the people they love. I can only hope that it helps them when they can’t find the right words or the weight of what they want to communicate.

Music has always been a benign companion of human beings – it’s Cupid. It helps us remember things we didn’t want to forget – we get married to music, we live our lives to music. I am proud that I have created some music in my life and to have left something behind that helps people express themselves in a world where it is sometimes so hard to communicate what we truly want to say.

Why is it personally important for you to raise funds and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the people it affects?

I do it for Glen and his family. I think Glen Campbell is the poster child for facing Alzheimer’s with courage. He fought against the disease and said “I’m not done yet!” – and that is a direct quote! Glen has always been an incredibly optimistic man and a fighter in life – funny and positive about most things. It wasn’t a surprise to see him react and fight back against the disease the way he has.

Audiences who came out across the country to see him play his farewell tour came out in droves. I believe his experience became a consciousness-raising moment in history. Even though he was a celebrity, he allowed the public a very personal look into his life through the movie “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”, documenting his fight and his decline and showing people what he and his family were experiencing.

Glen’s family helped demystify Alzheimer’s disease – they took their fear and dissipated it. The family looked at the disease as something they knew they had to face and asked themselves: “What can we do to help? What would we want done for us if we were in that situation?” They were brave and truly inspirational in how they approached the disease in a practical way.

As much as Glen and his family fought back, I personally feel a huge sense of loss. Alzheimer’s has inflicted a tragic loss of talent and energy and potential. The disease hit Glen at a point when he knew more than he would ever know and when he still had so much to contribute within the music community.  Alzheimer’s snuck in the back door and took the records Glen would’ve made and all he still had to share with his family, friends and his audiences. To me, that was a personal tragedy that is still very difficult for me to deal with.

My difficulty, however, in no way compares to the distress and just plain stress –that Alzheimer’s inflicts on the caregivers. Alzheimer’s is full of sorrow and exhaustion, and it has a ripple effect. The person with Alzheimer’s is surrounded by rings of people affected in different ways; sometimes they don’t even know they are being affected! Watching the disease progress in Glen made me put myself in his wife Kim’s shoes. For years now, my own wife Laura and I have asked ourselves and one another the heavy questions. “What would we do in similar circumstances? How would I take care of you? How would you take care of me?” When you are affected on a very close, personal basis, you view life in a different way. And your eyes are wide open.

You’ve long been an inspiration to other songwriters and musicians, and you were a collaborator with Glen on some of his biggest hits, such as “Wichita Lineman.” His recently-announced final album “Adios” will include 12 tracks, featuring songs like “Just like Always.” What has your collaboration over the years meant to you? What emotions do you have in knowing that this will be his last album?

I don’t compare my own loss with that of Glen’s family; it doesn’t compare on any level.  But I do feel like a second-tier casualty of Alzheimer’s disease. It has taken the most accomplished, beautiful, golden voice that was perfectly matched to my songs. It has taken the No. 1 promoter of my music, who also happens to be my best friend of 50 years. Our children grew up together, and it wouldn’t be much of a reach to say that the Campbells and the Webbs are like family.

I can’t put into words the loss I feel over Glen’s journey with this disease. But I can say this: the world needs beauty. The world needs its painters, its singers and its artists. There is something so ugly about this particular man being taken from us in this fashion. It is hard for me to deal with and sometimes I just don’t. Sometimes I am like an oyster covering the sources of my irritation in pearlescent mother-of-pearl; but trying so hard not to think about it is almost like thinking about it.

Once you are touched by Alzheimer’s, your life will never be the same. It seems like a waste of so much energy and talent…and so much LOVE. It’s hard to find any good thing about it, but you try.

Glen found a way to be a living, breathing, fighting example of Alzheimer’s for millions of people. In publicly fighting back, he turned the bad into something good. I can only try to walk in his footprints. He has been so dear to me and my family, and whether you knew it or not, he was probably dear to you, too. He was going to make so much more music that you would’ve loved.

If we work hard enough and raise enough money, we can turn this thing around.  We can end this disease for good. For love, for music – and for those we consider family.

About Jimmy Webb:  Jimmy is a songwriter, composer and singer known worldwide as a master of his trade. Since his first platinum hit “The Worst That Could Happen,” Webb has had numerous hits including “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “All I Know” and “MacArthur Park,” and has also become a leader and mentor in the industry as a champion for songwriters.  Webb is the only artist ever to have received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics and orchestration. He was also the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and serve as its Chairman. Webb is married to Laura Savini, a producer and host for PBS. He has five sons, one daughter and recently became a grandfather.

Photo Credits: Photo #1: Sandra Gillard/Lightkeepers, Photo #3: Sasa Tkalcan, Photo #4: RockStars and Babies

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May 232012
 
Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell

On Wednesday, May 16, the Alzheimer’s Association hosted “An Evening with Glen Campbell,” an event to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among members of Congress. Held at the Library of Congress, the evening honored country music legend Campbell, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, and his family.

Actress and philanthropist Jane Seymour welcomed a crowd including members of Congress, staff and their families. Seymour’s husband, James Keach, and his filmmaking partner, Trevor Albert, are making a documentary on Campbell and his family, following their battle with Alzheimer’s disease as Campbell conducts his farewell tour.

The attendees watched a brief film highlighting the state of Alzheimer’s today, revealing statistics from the recently released Alzheimer’s Association 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The film focuses on the cost of Alzheimer’s to the country, which will total a shocking $200 billion in 2012.

Harry Johns, president and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association, started the program by congratulating the assembled crowd on the release of the National Alzheimer’s Plan the day before.

“The release of the National Alzheimer’s Plan is a huge historic moment for our cause. I want thank of all the members of Congress for their support of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act,” Johns said. “Your leadership has made it possible to have a plan that creates a platform to address Alzheimer’s in America, and we truly appreciate that.”

Johns also talked about the challenge ahead, applauding Campbell and his family for their bravery as they publically face this disease.

“There are 5.4 million people today that have this disease, and because of baby boomers like me, that number is going to grow to 16 million in the next 38 years,” Johns said. “What I want to commend Glen and his family for is announcing his diagnosis and staying in the public eye. It sets a precedent and helps to advance conversation about the cause.”

Congressmen Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), longtime co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, also spoke to the attendees, addressing recent successes in the fight against the disease and looking to the future.

“No coach goes into a big game without a strategy, and now we have a fully integrated plan with public and private stakeholders,” Smith said. “We have worked on this for a long time.”

“These families at home, they are heroes. But heroes need help,” Markey added. “You’ve heard the numbers. We have to give them hope.”

Dr. Ron Petersen, director of the Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a member of the National Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease, gave an update on scientific progress in the field and the ways in which the National Alzheimer’s Plan will help to advance that research.

“Now we have a blueprint, a roadmap, for how we are actually going to get to a cure for this disease,” said Petersen. “The charge is back to us, the charge is back to Congress. I think we’ve done part of the work, but in another sense the work has just begun.”

After Petersen’s remarks, Campbell’s daughter Ashley took to the stage to introduce a sneak preview of the documentary focusing on her father’s farewell tour. She and her brothers, Shannon and Cal, are members of Campbell’s band and travel with him; Campbell’s wife, Kim, is his primary caregiver.

“We decided to go on a farewell tour with him to keep his struggle public,” she said. “We didn’t want people to think they were going through this alone. This isn’t a disease that just affects the person living with it — it affects their entire family.”

After a sneak preview of the documentary, Campbell took to the stage and received a standing ovation. Moving around with the microphone in hand, he was at ease, joking with the crowd and teasing his children. He drew repeated thunderous applause as he displayed his skill with the guitar, performing favorites such as “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.”

Ashley and her family feel that performing is helping Campbell to face his disease and its symptoms.

“We’ve seen music as a form of therapy on this tour. He seems to be happier, to do better with his memory,” she said. “Happiness is the non-medical medicine.”

Throughout the evening, Campbell reinforced this observation, frequently telling the crowd, “I’m a happy, happy man. Do you want to hear some more?”

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