When legendary singer and music icon Glen Campbell announced recently that he was giving his Farewell Tour due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, many people around the country were shocked and saddened to learn that this disease could strike even the most famous and beloved of celebrities. The devotion and gratitude that Campbell conjures up was clearly evident at the February 2012 Grammy Awards Ceremony when he was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award for a career spanning more than fifty years and covering just about every musical genre from country, rock and pop, to folk and gospel. But as the seventy-five-year-old singer travels on his final tour, he speaks with great optimism about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Alongside his wife Kim Woollen of thirty years, the couple relate how Campbell continues to “make the best of each day” while still performing as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.
For Campbell and Woollen, the singer’s episodes of “short term memory loss” began some time in early 2011 and were their first clues about his disease. Unlike so many others living in the limelight, the couple almost immediately went public about the musician’s condition. Perhaps one day it may become a reality that more celebrities like Campbell will publicly acknowledge their battles with Alzheimer’s (AD) and dementia, especially as our population continues to age. Indeed, we already know the story of President Ronald Reagan, who was diagnosed with AD at the age of 83 and who lived for ten years with the disease until his death in 2004. And we may also remember hearing that Charlton Heston, Perry Como, Rita Hayworth and Rosa Parks all struggled with dementia as well. But, with the possible exception of President Reagan’s final years, the story of celebrities battling Alzheimer’s continues to remain a “low key” subject to the public, just as so much of the disease itself remains a mystery.
Marla Levie, BSW, MA, President and Founder of Focus on Aging, has successfully been providing marketing consulting, social media and recruiting services to the elder care market and to other service-related professions in the Chicago area for over 20 years. Use the contact tab to email Marla for additional information about her services.