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Glen Campbell And Alzheimer's Disease

Glenn looks down the barrel of a gun

Glenn looks down the barrel of a gun

The news of Glen Campbell being moved into a health facilitie  for Alzheimer patients made me think, over and above his music, how terrific he ws when I saw him in at the Town Hall in 2012, about losing your memory till you are a blank sheet and finally you are not even that.

But the horror of Alzheimer’s is more for the one who love the patients than the patients themselves.  The patients are, according to the National Institute Of Aging,  are in “more than just denial, anosognosia is a lack of awareness of impairment – a person does not even know they are ill – and it affects up to 81% of those with Alzheimer’s disease.”

I always thought that Alzheimer’s  was more like a huge case of short term memory loss and perhaps it starts like that, “Every few months I sense that another piece of me is missing. My life… my self… are falling apart. I can only think half-thoughts now. Someday I may wake up and not think at all.” That is the way I thought it would feel, it is, indeed, since the finishing end is the loss of identity and eventually death, that is, indeed, what is happening.

But also, if you are forgetting everything, you will be forgetting your disease: it will, it must, become a form of anosognosia. Since you don’t know you are ill it isn’t really affecting you. Will you die? Yes, you will. Is it a burden and horror on those who love you? Absolutely, but you don’t know that, you are too busy spilling your soup and walking down the street in your underpants.

At this place in Campbell’s life, and this isn’t hospice by the way, he may leave, he may be there for ten years, but at this point are attention leaves him and goes to his family and we find this tall, strapping, famous man, disappearing before their very eyes.

There is nothing they can do about; they can’t, or won’t, or it becomes fraught with difficulties and miscues, speak to their loved ones. “I love you daddy”, but where is daddy? What do the words mean to him?

It is a human tragedy. There are a million of them. A long and painful and sorry death to watch and at some stage, nit even that for the dying.

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