(MOUNT LAUREL, NJ, August 6, 2019) — Kim Campbell, Alzheimer’s disease advocate and widow of Grammy Hall of Fame and Award-winning music legend Glen Campbell, will deliver the keynote address at the American Neurological Association Annual Meeting in St. Louis.
Ms. Campbell will offer her remarks on Sunday, October 13, 2019, during the Presidential Symposium on “Dominantly Inherited and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.” The Symposium will be chaired by ANA President David Holtzman, MD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine and a leading researcher on the mechanisms of neurodegeneration underlying Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Four experts will share new insights into the emerging role of the innate immune system in AD expression, the latest biomarkers, and their contributions to current therapeutic trials.
Married to Glen Campbell for 34 years until his death from complications of AD in August 2017 at age 81, Ms. Campbell will describe the insights gained during her family’s extraordinary journey.
A full Q&A interview with Kim Campbell can be found here.
Glen Campbell was diagnosed with AD in January 2011 and entered a long-term memory care community in 2014. In between, the couple toured the United States performing with his band, which included their children Cal, Shannon, and Ashley. The tour was captured in the acclaimed 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, directed by filmmaker (Walk the Line) James Keach. The film recounts the details of Glen’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and how it affected his musical performances during the final tour, as well as his neurologists’ observations about the power of his musical ability to sustain cognitive performance for longer than expected.
“I was on tour with Glen and watching this miracle every night on stage,” Ms. Campbell says. “Off stage, Glen was functioning, but he was very forgetful. But the minute he heard the introduction to Gentle On My Mind, it was like he was back. He walked on stage and just did a tremendous show. When he played guitar, it flowed out of him effortlessly without him even having to think.”
Ms. Campbell is founder of the Kim & Glen Campbell Foundation for the research of music as medicine; author of CareLiving.org, a blog providing resources and inspiration to other caregivers; and an honorary faculty member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Erickson School, connecting aging services research with industry leaders. She is currently at work on a memoir to be released for the summer of 2020.
One of the hardest things about being a caregiver was watching her husband’s slow decline, Ms. Campbell says. “In the later stages, he had lost the ability to understand language or communicate verbally, he had aphasia. When I would try to bathe him or change his clothes, he would get physically violent with me. You know they don’t know what they are doing so you can’t take it personally. But it’s just heartbreaking.”
By 2014, the family could no longer manage Glen’s care at home, and they turned to a memory care community, which Ms. Campbell found to be an excellent solution. “There is a stigma surrounding long-term care that discourages families from even considering it as an option. That’s really unfortunate because when our family joined a memory care community, it significantly improved the quality of life for Glen and our entire family. When you enter the late stages of dementia, a good memory care community should be your first choice, not your last resort.”
The medical community could better serve caregivers by educating families about their options and helping them formulate a plan, she says. In the meantime, Ms. Campbell advocates for increased federal funding for AD research and for laws that alleviate the financial burdens that caregivers face.
“Before our film, no one wanted to talk about [Alzheimer’s disease],” Ms. Campbell says. “It’s a little embarrassing to families when someone is losing their competency. But Glen was just so open and honest about it, and it gave people permission to offer to help, to ask questions, and that takes away the awkwardness.”
“I’m proud of my husband for opening up a national conversation about the disease and helping remove some of the stigma surrounding it and helping caregivers feel seen and heard.”
The 144th Annual Meeting of the American Neurological Association (ANA) will be held October 13–15, 2019 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand, with a Pre-Meeting Symposium on October 12 on Brain-Computer Interfaces in Neurological Disease. More than 900 of the nation’s top academic neurologists and neuroscientists, as well as students, trainees, and international professionals, will convene to share three days of research at the forefront of neurology and neuroscience. A “Highlights of the Meeting” roundtable will be held for media on October 15. A detailed Advance Program is online. Follow the meeting live using #ANA2019 on Twitter @TheNewANA1, on Facebook @AmericanNeurologicalAssociation, or on Instagram @ananeurology.
About the American Neurological Association (ANA)
From advances in stroke and dementia to movement disorders and epilepsy, the American Neurological Association has been at the vanguard of research since 1875 as the premier professional society of academic neurologists and neuroscientists devoted to understanding and treating diseases of the nervous system. Its monthly Annals of Neurology is among the world’s most prestigious medical journals, and the ANA’s Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology is an online-only, open access journal providing rapid dissemination of high-quality, peer-reviewed research related to all areas of neurology. The acclaimed ANA Annual Meeting draws faculty and trainees from the top academic departments across the U.S. and abroad for groundbreaking research, networking, and career development. For more information, visit www.myana.org or follow @TheNewANA1 on Twitter, @AmericanNeurologicalAssociation on Facebook, or @ananeurology on Instagram.