Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Thank You, Glen Campbell
Many diseases have the face of a celebrity- we think of Michael J. Fox for Parkinson's, or Katie Couric (on behalf of her husband) for colon cancer. Although President Reagan had Alzheimer's, I don't think there is as strong of a link there. Alzheimer's is the disease we don't want to talk about. It's just too uncomfortable, right?
Well, hat's off to singer Glen Campbell & his wife. Mr. Campbell gave a televised interview last night to openly talk about his experience of memory loss and his diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. I loudly applaud his public acknowledgement of this relentless disease. I hope that his singing tour will bring increasing awareness to this incredibly common disease. Right now, over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease. I love that Mr. Campbell is highlighting how music memory is something that is preserved...often beyond when the person suffering the memory loss no longer recognizes their family. I have bittersweet memories of singing Christmas carols with my mom- her not skipping a beat nor stumbling on words that I couldn't recall- and she only knew me as a "nice friend," not her youngest daughter.
What's my take-home message here? If you have a loved one with Alzheimer's memory loss, and you struggle to get them to interact with you, consider a song. Old commercials, school fight songs, traditional carols, hymns or anthems are all good choices. I have found in my personal experience that often once the person begins singing, it often "gets the juices flowing" enough that they are able to carry on a conversation (where they were not interested or able when you began your visit.)
BOTTOM LINE: Hitting a communication wall with someone struggling with Alzheimer's? Try a tune!
PS. I recommend sites like ElderSong- a wonderful source for music geared to trigger memories! ( I have no financial interest in this company, but have purchased many sing-along CDs and videos from them.)