Singer and musician Glen Campbell’s admission last year that he is battling Alzheimer’s is bringing a great deal of awareness to the disease. Often times, a person with Alzheimer’s is regarded according to what they can’t do, instead of by the abilities they have remaining. That’s why it was so touching to see Glen Campbell’s performance at the Grammys. In case you missed it, he brought the house down.
Glen Campbell is out on what’s being called his farewell tour after recording and releasing his final album last year. He’s taking the remaining abilities he has and using them to the fullest extent he can. His family thinks he’s improved a little in the past year and believes that playing music, the activity he loves doing, provides him with a type of therapy.
Three of Campbell’s children are in his band and offer support every time he performs. His daughter, who plays keyboards, banjo, and violin in his band, told CNN, “He looks at me sometimes if he is confused, and I just smile at him. I just try to make him feel like he is surrounded by people that love him on stage."
Campbell’s fans offer another kind of support by celebrating the person he is today and not holding him to standards of the past. If Campbell forgets the lyrics during a concert, his fans start singing until he can find his way to the melody again. They aren’t disappointed at what he can’t do or remember; they appreciate what he can do. What a level of support!
We need to look at our loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease in a similar light. Maybe they can’t do everything they used to do or remember what they once could, but they still have remaining abilities that can be tapped into. We should nurture their remaining abilities and encourage and support them every step of the way. Glen Campbell provides such a valuable lesson for all of us on how to focus on remaining abilities, rather than on the things people with Alzheimer’s can no longer do.