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Rhinestone Cowboy’s Wife Cautions to Plan for Alzheimer’s

Lady patient"Kim Campbell didn't initially see that her husband, music legend Glen Campbell, had Alzheimer's."

Kim first saw the signs, but chalked it up to the normal aging process. However, once she suspected that her husband had a serious problem—more than just senior moments—she needed to get a diagnosis. Glen Campbell, now 79, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011. He performed the final show of his farewell tour in late 2012.

"Getting the diagnosis helped me a lot," Kim Campbell said in a recent telephone interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, in "Wife of Glen Campbell takes on role of Alzheimer's advocate, speaker." She was candid with the reporter, admitting, "Before the diagnosis, I would get frustrated with him, and irritated and annoyed."

Alzheimer's impacts about half of all people over the age of 85 and kills nearly 100,000 Americans each year. It's named for the German doctor Alois Alzheimer, who discovered the distinctive tangles and plaques of the disease in the brain of a female dementia patient in 1906.

Kim Campbell said the disease needs to be approached from a perspective of examining what the patient still can do versus what he or she can't. What can caregivers do to give them comfort and joy?

Glen Campbell now resides in a memory care unit. Kim Campbell said she tried one last time to have her husband at home — "I missed him so much, and I thought, I've just got to try it one more time. (But) I couldn't bathe him without a fight, or change his clothes. Glen's a big man, and he was not easy."

Kim Campbell said she speaks out about Alzheimer's disease to help families because Alzheimer's "is definitely the most feared disease. You lose control of your life. There are identity issues and autonomy issues."

Campbell also suggests that caregivers give themselves breaks and take care of themselves because the stress for caregivers is enormous.

She also emphasized that estate planning is very important and noted the need for advance health care directives.

Reference: Lexington (KY) Herald Leader (February 24, 2016) "Wife of Glen Campbell takes on role of Alzheimer's advocate, speaker"

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