As a teenager, I listened to the music of Glen Campbell by the hour on the small phonograph in my room. I knew all the words to all his songs. It brought me a lot of joy to listen to the country thoughts of this humble man. Even if I was having a hard day, his music was soothing and made me thing of happier things. Now I’m impressed by him once again as he struggles with dementia. His honesty and bravery has been a shining light for many who are dealing with the life struggles of Alzheimer’s. His wife Kim has found her own way to help others who are caregivers to loved ones with dementia and I applaud her efforts.
Yesterday I happened to be watching television when an interview with Glen’s wife Kim came on. She was spreading the news of the release of his final album but also sharing the struggles she and her whole family has faced while caring for Glen.
Caring for Caregivers
She started a website devoted to caregivers called Careliving.org where she promotes the self-care of caregivers who are so vital to those they love and who may well lose years off their lives due to the struggles of caregiving.
She said music had been such a blessing during the past six years for Glen and the whole family. It’s not news that music improves our lives, but now the experts are saying it helps those with dementia in so many ways.
The Alzheimer’s Association website states that music can help with agitation and behavioral issues, and provides a way for those suffering to connect even after their verbal abilities have diminished. Kim said it definitely helped Glen through some tough times and brought him a lot of joy.
Music as Therapy
Alz.org gives these suggestions for using music as therapy for caregivers:
- Choose music you know your loved one enjoys
- CDs and recorded music are better than radio because there are no commercial breaks
- Choose music that instills the mood you wish your loved one to experience — soothing music when they’re agitated, uplifting music when they are down, etc.
- Keep the area where you’re playing the music free from distractions by shutting doors and turning off the television
- Encourage your loved one to clap, dance and sing to the music. It makes a great connection.
Kim said that the experts she talked to believe that music has a way of keeping the pathways of the brain functioning better far longer for those with dementia. Sadly Glen is now unable to play his beloved guitar or even talk. During his moderate phase of dementia he became combative and Kim said they really had no choice but to find him a memory care facility. She said it was a real blessing how much support she’s received from the community.
I hope she knows that because of her efforts and those of her husband’s, he will forever be gentle on the minds of so many.