A few days ago, I watched the I'll Be Me documentary about Glen Campbell's life after a diagnosis with Alzheimer's. The film was in limited release a year ago, but I watched it on CNN. I had read the reviews: most noting how the anguish would be familiar to those who had acquaintance with Alzheimer's or dementia.
I don't get it. An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimers. That makes a diagnosis of Alzheimers or dementia something that is not exactly a rare or freakish occurrence.
How could any of us not have had an encounter with someone with some kind of dementia? Have we hidden those with this diagnosis away so well — in the name of human dignity but in the reality of our own discomfort– that Glen Campbell's tearful acknowledgement in the film that he is sad to know where this diagnosis will take him yet feels powerless to stop it is something we imagine we're trying to protect him from?
After viewing the documentary, I wondered if Glen Campbell is still able to live at home with his remarkable wife Kim, so I googled him. Sure enough, he has been bouncing in and out of care facilities and home residence as his disease progresses. And not all of his six children sound all that pleased that, as the disease progresses, he continued to be filmed. I hope his children and his wife find the strength to be as courageous as Glen. I think Glen Campbell is right, we can't know our enemy until we look it in the eye.