Glen Campbell and his Family Shine
Like a rhinestone cowboy Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo Like a rhinestone cowboy Getting cards and letters from people I don't even know And offers comin' over the phone
--Glen Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy Refrain
Want to catch Glen Campbell singing Rhinestone Cowboy in a live performance? Nowʼs your chance.
In fact, the refrain from Rhinestone Cowboy now takes on a prophetic feel. The star spangled series of live performances is Glen Campbellʼs farewell tour. This singing legend has been diagnosed with Alzheimerʼs Disease.
If I were to write him a card or letter, it would convey my thanks for his inspiring music. Mr. Campbell and his family will get in the mail The Caregiver Hero Award--sponsored by the Caregiver Club--recognizing their inspiring response to Alzheimerʼs Disease. Here are some ways you can emulate the Campbells and bring out the caregiver hero in you.
Speak the truth. The Campbells publicly announced the diagnosis. Dementia is not a shameful character flaw; itʼs a medical condition caused by a sick brain. If a loved one with memory problems gets frustrated, you can say, “Itʼs hard having a sick brain. Weʼre here to help.”
Gather your family. Glen Campbellʼs tour is a family affair. His wife is by his side and his children are onstage singing back-up. How can you include every family member? Can you literally be by your loved oneʼs side? Can you harmonize the melody of old familiar stories?
Seek joy. Itʼs completely normal to be sad about lost memories. Help your loved one use the parts of the brain that are still healthy.
Recreate joy-filled times from the past. Engage the body with sights and smells and physical movement from early adulthood. This could mean baking cookies or buying a video game that uses skills developed early in life like flying a plane or golfing.
Sing. I mean literally. Music is stored in the part of the brain that is preserved until the very late stages of Alzheimerʼs. Where thereʼs life there the chance to love and be loved. You can share joy no matter what. You as the caregiver can help make that happen.