I'll Be Me illustrates that while someone with Alzheimer’s might have difficulties in some areas, they can still function on many levels with the help of family and friends.
By Dorothy Gable
Alzheimer's Reading Room
What do you do if you’re diagnosed with dementia just as you’re writing your last album? Do you slink away and hide – after all, who would want to publicize their progressive, neurological disorder? Or do you launch a goodbye tour?
Knowing they had an obligation to promote his last album, Ghost on the Canvas, Glen and his family launched The Final Farewell Tour.
Glen Campbell and his family chose to share their dementia experience with the world by recording the events from the tour.
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Accompanied by his faithful wife, Kim, and with his children Cal, Shannon, and Ashley in his band, they held 151 performances throughout North America and Europe.
The resulting documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, honestly portrays the events of their international goodbye tour. With his guitar solos, perfect pitch and velvet voice Glen performed his classic hits and new songs before cheering audiences.
The documentary also shows the struggles, difficulties and upsets that occur with Alzheimer’s.
While Kim works to get him ready and on stage, once Glen steps in front of the lights, the crowd roars and the music starts, he is able to perform his songs. The film illustrates that while someone with Alzheimer’s might have difficulties in some areas, they can still function on many levels with the help of family and friends.
Staying involved and active helps to maintain functionality for longer periods of time. Dr. Richard Taylor, a psychology professor stricken with Alzheimer’s, for years wrote books, lectured throughout the United States, and was a founding member of Dementia Alliance International (DAI). He wrote the book, Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out, one of the best books describing dementia from the individual’s viewpoint. Dr. Taylor recently died from cancer.
These talented individuals accomplished these feats while living with the disease with the help of family and friends.
Glen’s faithful wife watches the performances from the wings while their children accompany Glen in the backup band. You rejoice with them as Glen’s velvet voice sings out his greatest hits. The crowd roars with delight as he opens with a familiar refrain, “I am a lineman for the county.” The magic of his music speaks through his delivery.
The beauty of family, lifting up their loved one, helping them continue living sings out in this film. Yes, Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, but a person does not have to be defined by his disabilities. Family can come alongside and helping them be the best they can be, that day, helping them find meaning in life. We all desire to be useful and productive, even when our capabilities decrease with dementia.
As the movie moves through the tour, it’s clear the band is approaching their final performance.
Towards the end of the film his wife and children recall the special moments they will never forget.
The Campbell family demonstrated how to live well with dementia. We only have this time, today, now, to love them. Let us never run away from our loved ones and friends touched by dementia.
Dorothy Gable lives in Dubuque, Iowa, and she is working on a book to help caregivers navigate the dementia maze – Navigating the Dementia Maze for the Christian Caregiver. You can read about her book and learn more on her website - www.navigatingdementiamaze.com
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