By in Random

Glen Campbell's Generous Final Act

You don't have to be a country music fan, or even a fan of Glen Campbell, to appreciate the courage and generosity of spirit that was demonstrated by a man diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease to take his show on the road.

After being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011, Campbell was determined to do a Farewell Tour. Originally slated to be a five week period morphed into more than 150 concerts due to requests from additional venues that wanted Campbell to perform there.

During this period, Campbell was in stages 2-4 out of the seven into which Alzheimer's disease is staged. As time moved forward, the musician exhibited increasing difficulty at times. During what became his final concert at the end of November 2012, Campbell exhibited agitation and confusion. It was time to call the touring to a halt -- there was no point in subjecting audiences to the uncomfortableness of watching that happen, nor tarnish Campbell's long-held reputation as a musician and performer.

The increased awareness of Alzheimer's disease because of Campbell's determination to share his experiences with this audiences and with the world in general, both through his Farewell Tour and the documentary of that period, "I'm Not Going to Miss You," is unlikely to be measurable, but it has been and will be full of impact just the same. The impact, if not in dollars given to Alzheimer's research, may be personal for those with the diagnosis and/or those who care for them -- who can put a value on that?

As a long-term care nurse, I cared for many people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. I watched the light in their eyes of who they were slowly but surely become a haze. I supported family members and friends who were devastated by the changes in their loved ones. I support those things which bring increased understanding to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias as well as continued research into this stealthy thief.

Resources: " Glen Campbell Shares Poignant Last Music Video, 'I'm Not Going to Miss You '" "' Thank you, Heavenly Father'": Faith, Alzheimer's and My Husband Glen Campbell "

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Image Credit » by johnhain

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wolfgirl569 wrote on February 26, 2015, 12:53 PM

It is an awful disease that I hope they can find a way to at least lesson the problems of very soon.

arthurchappell wrote on February 26, 2015, 1:13 PM

I always loved his music and his bravery now along with another famous Alzheimer's suffer hero to me Terry Pritchett will help many to better understand this terrible tragic illness

MegL wrote on February 26, 2015, 1:46 PM

Glen Campbell's music was great, I have a number of his CD's. Such a shame about him and Terry Pratchett. Dementia is a terrible illness.

j2jworkz wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:01 PM

One of the first magazine articles I wrote in college was on a hospital research project- an assisted living facility type environment in which they were researching and testing the needs and the physical structure of a home or facility necessary to provide a quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and caregivers. It was an invaluable glimpse into the research and the patients from an outside observer. It is a brutal disease for those with the disease or diseases with dementia issues and their family and friends. I know research has progressed through the years, but at times it feels like it is a standstill, due to funds. Glen Campbell is a class act to publicly document his journey.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:10 PM

I think we know so very little about the workings of the brain, truly. While many people think that space is the final frontier, I would suggest that the human brain and mind is instead.

Knowing now that Campbell was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011, I find myself speculating if his earlier drinking episodes weren't his reaction to the first signs of the disease before diagnosis. His choice to document his journey wipes out, for me, any negative thoughts I had about those DUIs. He's given a voice and an image to a disease that gets little fanfare compared to other conditions.

I can only imagine how, as a college student, yet naive to much of the world, how eye-opening your experience was.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:13 PM

I liked Glen Campbell and his music back in the day when my peers were ga-ga over the Beatles. lol

I'm not familiar with Terry Pratchett, so will have to bring myself up to speed, but it is a shame that these two people in the limelight and hundreds of thousands of unknown people deal with dementia in its various forms. And scary to consider, too, that one day we might face the beast head-on.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:18 PM

You are the second person who has mentioned Terry Pritchett. I'm embarrassed to say I am not familiar with, but will school myself here shortly.

I think Campbell's documentary and song point out something very important: Yes, in the early stages of the disease, the person who has it is aware of the changes and is likely frightened, angry and more. In the later stages, the person with the disease is likely not aware of the losses, but the people who care for him or her are those who deal with the decline.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:23 PM

As I sit here reading comments and contemplating all I've experienced that is related to Alzheimer's and dementia, the tears just fall from my eyes. I'm grateful not to have experienced this disease in family or friends, but I grieve for all those who do.

arthurchappell wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:30 PM

Pratchetts Discworld novels are fabulous and very funny too

j2jworkz wrote on February 26, 2015, 2:43 PM

Feisty56 eye opening and I'd say in one way, life altering. Alzheimer's research remains severely underfunded in comparison to its' peer diseases. The private funding is hampered by lack of attention grabbing p.r. efforts, the marches, the runs, the celebrity survivors who raise funds, due to the course of the disease. Efforts by those such as Glen Campbell are vital for awareness and fund raising, which I am sure is one of the intents of his documentation.

valmnz wrote on February 26, 2015, 3:06 PM

I saw Glen Campbell here in New Zealand a few years before that tour, along with his daughter who also had an incredible singing voice. I know on his next tour people were disappointed. Maybe you have explained why here.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 4:13 PM

What I've read of the accounts of Campbell's farewell tour has come from the things his wife, Kim, as explained. Campbell divulged his Alzheimer's disease diagnosis prior to the tour so that audiences would be able to understand changes in behavior, memory lapses, etc. in the context of the disease. Kim Campbell's account of that tour was that audiences were very supportive of the entertainer during that tour.

I didn't attend any of those concerts, but I am guessing that a man in his mid to late seventies with Alzheimer's disease would not give the high caliber performances of his youth.

Ellis wrote on February 26, 2015, 4:24 PM

Very cruel condition which is as hard for loved ones to watch as it is for the sufferer...

cmoneyspinner wrote on February 26, 2015, 4:29 PM

Some people have a strong will to live their life. When they are diagnosed with an illness, they must decide: “Hey! I'm still living!” Those people I admire so much. BTW, I'm a country music fan and particular love Glenn Campbell. :)

Last Edited: February 26, 2015, 5:50 PM

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 5:36 PM

In the final stages of the disease, I don't think the person with it has much if any concept of his/her own symptoms. In that way, it's the loved ones who must push forward, being privy to the slow demise.

If it's not too personal a question, is that something you are encountering in your current caregiving?

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 5:40 PM

I think it takes a great strength of character to move forward when faced with an illness with a fatal prognosis. I think his band, his family, his two children who performed with him and the audiences that came to see him despite his diagnosis were generous of spirit and warriors in their own rights, too.

"I was country when country wasn't cool..." I see we were real-life examples of those lyrics.

wolfgirl569 wrote on February 26, 2015, 8:12 PM

I have been lucky also but worked in an alzheimers wing at a nursing home years back. It is awful to watch the decline

Ellis wrote on February 26, 2015, 8:29 PM

Memory problems are part of it...but mainly mobility...

GemOfAGirl wrote on February 26, 2015, 8:42 PM

I'm not a country music fan, but I did hear about it when he announced that he had Alzheimer's. At the time, what I heard was that he was still performing, and he didn't want his fans to think less of him if he sometimes forgot a few words from his songs, and that he'd continue to perform as long as his fans still wanted him to. What a brave man to go through that with the whole world watching. As I've seen with my own mother's battle with dementia, (and I'm sure you're already aware of this), much of the time, people close to them don't realize what's happening until it's already pretty far along in the process, because people who have it usually go to great lengths to hide it from the ones they love.

celticeagle wrote on February 26, 2015, 9:17 PM

I think, in looking back, that my maternal grandmother had this debilitating disease. She and I had spent a lot of time together when I was quite young. I went to visit her(the last time I saw her) when she was confined to bed. She didn't remember me at all. She asked my dad who this pretty young girl was he had brought to visit me. It broke my heart. What an awful disease.

allen0187 wrote on February 26, 2015, 9:32 PM

That is indeed very brave of Glen Campbell to confront the disease head on. He didn't let it define him or stop him from what he loved doing. I have a new found admiration for him after reading your post. Thank you Feisty56 .

msiduri wrote on February 26, 2015, 9:55 PM

It is a horrible, progressive condition that is painful to watch. What a wonderful gift, though. How human.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 9:56 PM

My thoughts are with you. I hope you have some assistance so you're not shouldering this alone.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:02 PM

Exactly...Campbell went public with this diagnosis for the reasons you've explained. Even though two of his kids performed with him and all did their best to redirect him and be patient, he couldn't have known whether he'd experience some of the more outward signs of Alzheimer's such as hallucinations or mood swings while he was on stage.

Oh yes, people cover up their symptoms first to convince themselves there isn't a problem and to keep loved ones from being concerned. It must have hit you hard when you first learned of your mother's diagnosis and can't be easy on a day-to-day basis to deal with. I hope you have a good support system and are kind to yourself whenever possible.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:07 PM

That had to be very difficult, not being recognized by your grandmother with whom you had spent so much time as a youngster. I know that as a nurse, my own heart would ache for spouses and adult children who were no longer recognized by their loved ones.

I don't think it matters if you know intellectually that that will be an eventual part of the disease. It still hurts when it happens to you personally and is a sign of further deterioration in the affected person.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:11 PM

You are most welcome. I learned of most of this after hearing Tim McGraw sing "I'm Not Going to Miss You" on the Academy Award program. At first the lyrics seemed heartless to me until I began investigating what the song was about. I believe Campbell is accurate in his depiction of what it is like for someone with dementia.

Feisty56 wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:13 PM

You have put it so aptly -- how human indeed. To make oneself vulnerable not to only his loved ones, but the thousands and thousands of people who attended his concerts and all of those who will see the documentary made of that tour.

ViperGirl85 wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:35 PM

I feel so terrible for anyone going through that, and of course for their loved ones. I watched my Daddy change from someone always on the computer or going out, to someone lying on the couch all the time in pain, all because of lung cancer. I cannot imagine anyone watching their loved one go through Alzheimer's, and my heart breaks for them. emoticon :crying:

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:47 PM

What a brave thing for Glen Campbell, his family, band, and support people to do. I know that couldn't have been easy for any of them.

RonElFran wrote on February 26, 2015, 10:57 PM

You're right, it must have taken a lot of courage. I remember Glen Campbell from decades ago, and it's so sad to him afflicted with this terrible condition.

Feisty56 wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:00 AM

I'm sorry you had to watch your father change from an active, vibrant man to someone affected by lung cancer. I don't know that the pain of watching a loved one suffer can be measured as one being more awful than the other. You are generous of spirit to have empathy for the loved ones of those with dementias.

Feisty56 wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:03 AM

I think it was very much a selfless act, giving back to the fans who had been there for him through the years and becoming a poster man of sorts for Alzheimer's disease. I agree with you, too, that it couldn't have been easy for the band or anyone closely involved with that tour. They deserve kudos as well.

Feisty56 wrote on February 27, 2015, 12:07 AM

For me, it is as if Campbell full circle with his actions in that farewell tour. I remember he seemed a squeaky clean fella when he first became popular. In the in-between years he had his share of faux pas. Now he will be remembered for his courage in the face of adversity.

VinceSummers wrote on February 27, 2015, 7:34 AM

Alzheimer's is a terrible way to go. It's happening a lot these days. I'm not so sure foods and chemicals and commerce are blameless.

Feisty56 wrote on February 27, 2015, 10:47 AM

As a chemist, you likely have far more knowledge and insight into the potential dangers to health of the chemicals we are exposed to regularly than the average non-scientist. Some years ago I read what for me was an eye-opening understanding of the role such substances play in our health, a book called "Why We Hurt." I don't know if it would interest you, but the author, Dr. Gregory Fors, does a nice job of referencing the scientific studies behind his conclusions.

Ellis wrote on February 27, 2015, 2:16 PM

Thanks...coping okay for now but little time to play here...

AliCanary wrote on February 28, 2015, 12:25 PM

I can't hear that song without just bawling all the way through it, which is bloody inconvenient, since it's beautiful. Tim McGraw sang a superb rendition of it at the Oscars, and my eyes were just about swollen shut the next day emoticon :crying:

AliCanary wrote on February 28, 2015, 12:29 PM

Terry Pratchett's novels are similar to those of Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhiker's Guide series. Great if you love satirical/absurdist humor like Monty Python, et al.

Feisty56 wrote on March 1, 2015, 9:59 AM

I've tried to imagine what it might have been like for Campbell to write the song. He had to have known it was the end of the trail professionally and likely nearly so personally. I can't fathom what it must have been like for the people around him, his family, other musicians, all those who worked on the projects with him. I don't think I could have done it without grieving, without tears.

What a gift he and all those associated with him has given to the world and to a disease that affects so many. Tim McGraw was the perfect choice to sing it at the Oscars.

GedWrites wrote on March 4, 2015, 3:38 PM

Life is a battle, courage is part of every humans nature, survival is involuntary and kindness a choice. This disease of the brain is tragic for the persons family, remembering the good times helps I suppose.

paigea wrote on March 17, 2015, 8:26 PM

I never knew Glen Campbell did that. I am going to see if I can find that documentary.

LindaCPearson wrote on March 20, 2015, 11:09 AM

My mom passed away from Alzheimer's Disease about 10 years ago. My family and I suffered greatly for years watching her slowly disappear. Glen Campbell's "I'm not going to miss you" sums it up for me - the Alzheimer's person eventually barely recognizes or knows their loved ones while the loved ones suffer broken hearts, missing their loved one often years before that loved one finally physically dies.

Shellyann36 wrote on April 25, 2015, 6:41 PM

My granny suffered from Alzheimer's for several years before she died. It was such a bad feeling of hopelessness watching someone you love just withering away. The light in their eyes does fade and it wrenches at the heart.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2015, 7:52 PM

I think sometimes as a caregiver, it's tough to relate to the loss of the individual and the family. Far too often, people hold off on placing their loved ones until they are overwhelmed. Hospital or nursing home staff never see the person the patient once was, but rather just the erratic, frightened and often aggressive person they become as the disease progresses. It's so important to remind ourselves how much has been lost, and what a huge impact the disease has on the family as well as the patient.

Feisty56 wrote on July 13, 2015, 9:21 PM

When I was yet working in long-term care, I often advised families to bring in photos of their loved ones from younger, better days. It helps the staff to better empathize with the confused/disoriented clients to be able to see them as the people they were before the illness.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 15, 2015, 11:08 PM

What a wonderful idea! I think that should be something all long-term care facilities do, and that families should be encouraged to share their stories of "before" with staff on a regular basis, as a reminder of that "patient's" personhood...

Paulie wrote on July 22, 2015, 3:17 AM

I admire Glen Campbell for the courage which he displayed in the face of battling Alzheimers. I remember his TV show in the 60s very well and I liked all of his songs.

Feisty56 wrote on July 22, 2015, 12:21 PM

I don't doubt that some of the motivation for the final tour was financial in nature, I don't think profit alone explains his actions. Much courage must have been needed to put himself in the spotlight with his condition. I appreciate the attention he was able to draw to Alzheimer's disease and the increased understanding of it, too.