Glen Campbell is a legend within the country music industry. His music and charisma earned him a lengthy career and a full life. Unfortunately, four years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, things have changed entirely. He struggles to carry on a conversation, can no longer play music and rarely recognizes the people he loves most.
His wife, Kim Campbell, told People: “He still has the same essence. He still has the same twinkle in his eye. He has the same chuckle, and he’s still an entertainer.” After 33 years of marriage, however, it must be devastating to spend time with her husband and have him not remember who she is.
Around the Clock Care
Since the 79-year-old’s condition is so advanced, he is living in a memory-care facility in Nashville, just minutes from his home. Kim has taken on his caregiving responsibilities but also has help from a family friend. “We’ll split shifts a lot of times,” she explains. “He’ll go for lunch and do some activities with him and I usually do the afternoon, dinner and stay with him until he goes to bed.”
Moments of Affection
His friends, including musician, Carl Jackson, say that, although he struggles with his memory, he “still has that humor inside of him” and, once in a while, he recognizes his wife and says “that’s my sweetie” or “I love you.” His daughter, Debby, recounts: “he reaches out to me and hugs me and say, ‘Oh, my baby girl,’ It’ll go away and it’ll come back, [but] if I hear it five to six times when I’m there, I’m good because it means he came to me at that moment.”
Campbell also receives visits from some of his eight children (three with Kim, five from previous marriages). His daughter, Shannon, says that he seems to enjoy hearing his old music and often will fall asleep to the sounds of his own recordings. Her sister, Ashley, explains that there is something else that seems to brighten his mood. “Hugs and a vanilla bean frappuccino,” she says. “His face lights up. I’ll usually bring one when I come visit, and if he’s zoning out, I’ll get the straw near his mouth, he’ll take a drink and immediately it’s like coming to life.”
To help raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, Campbell’s family collaborated to create his documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which airs on June 26, 2015 at 9pm on CNN. If you miss it, a digital download will be made available on August 18, 2015. The intimate footage provides a glimpse into the singer’s life beginning on his 2011 tour through the decline of his memory. Many people are affected by this disease every day and this is a great way to help the public understand the unique struggles.