We are circling back to our June 21 post about Glen Campbell, Alzheimer’s disease and a dispute over Campbell’s care. A few years ago, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but he was still able to tour with his band. The singer’s condition declined, though, and in spring 2013 the tour came to an end. Campbell returned home to Nashville with his wife, Kim.
It recently came to light that Kim has moved her husband to a long-term care facility near their home. Campbell’s oldest daughter publically objected. USA Today reported that she wanted her father to move in with her in Arizona. She said he should be surrounded by his family at home.
Kim, however, maintains that Campbell’s doctors urged her to move him into the care facility full-time. There, she says, her husband “has activities and therapies to stimulate him and help him experience daily moments of success.” She sees him every day, and two of his eight children visit him regularly. It helps, too, she explains, that the staff looking after him “adore him.”
Change the names of the people involved here, and you have a scenario that unfolds in far too many households every day. Family members may have promised years ago to take care of each other “if anything ever happened,” but caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming.
The disease can take any number of turns, and it can advance at just about any rate. For example, some patients with dementia go through something called sundowning. Toward the end of the day, these patients can experience confusion and anxiety, even aggression. For caretakers, it can be a struggle to keep the patient calm and to get the patient to follow simple directions.
Kim mentioned the activities at the health care facility that are designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. The activities and the routine, though, are things that a family member might find impossible to manage.
Campbell’s daughter wonders if this is what he would want. The same is true in many families. The best way for anyone to communicate his wishes is to think about the possibilities ahead of time and to develop a solid plan of action, including a power of attorney, to follow if that “anything” ever happens.
Source: Boston Herald, “Campbell’s wife defends his care,” Associated Press, June 20, 2014