In June 2011, country music veteran and Christian Glen Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease six months earlier. According to his family, symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming more and more evident as the years progressed. In April 2014, news reports indicated that Campbell had become a patient at an Alzheimer's long-term care and treatment facility. Less than a year, NBC News reported that Campbell could no longer speak for himself.
Despite Campbell's health being constantly deteriorating, his wife Kim Campbell says her husband's faith is still strong. "Faith has always been the central part of our relationship," Kim Campbell tells the Toronto Star. "I'm so pleased that as Glen has entered the later stages of this illness, it's evident that he has retained his awareness of God."
Campbell says, "There have been times when he'd walk over to a window and look at the beautiful trees outside, and he'd just raise his hands and say, 'Thank you, heavenly father.' He could barely speak at all, but he could come up with 'We're so blessed' or 'Thank you, heavenly father.'
"That really comforts me to know that he has that sense of God's presence in his life, that he's not alone, even if I'm not right next to him," she adds.
Sadly, though, in addition to his ability to speak, Glen Campbell has also lost his ability to play the guitar; his muscle memory is largely gone.
"Sadly, if you live long enough into this disease, you even lose that," Kim Campbell explains. "He cannot play guitar anymore. I don't even know if he knows what it's for. But our children come and play for him. It's hard to tell if he's responding to it much. Sometimes he'll listen, and sometimes he's distracted. He's in his own world right now."
Campbell said living with an Alzheimer's patient isn't always dignified. She admits that "depression, the lack of sleep, the burnout" wears on her and family members.
"A lot of people with dementia become combative, like when I bathe him or change his clothes," Campbell said. "Otherwise, he's as sweet as can be."
Once when Campbell was dressing her husband, "he gave me a black eye, just punched me right in the eye," she said. "I know he loves me, and it's not anything to do with (abuse). It's just that he can't communicate, and that's his reflex.
"There are also dangerous things they do, like pick up a knife and not know what it's for. Glen would put a straw hat on top of a lamp, and I'd find it just as hot as it could be, ready to start a fire.
"Another time, Glen stood on top of a glass tea cart, trying to climb through a kitchen window. He could've gone right through that (glass top) and cut his legs to pieces. And it was on wheels."