Nearly 100,000 people aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease in Maryland, and there are nearly three times as many caregivers according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Sixteen million Americans are expected to have the disease in 2050, and the cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by mid-century.
In the midst of the growing presence of the disease in Maryland and nationwide, on June 11, 2015 at UMBC, country musician Glen Campbell’s family, caregivers, health officials, and representatives from the Erickson School held an event to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and to share best practices for family members who are caring for a loved one with the disease. The event consisted of a panel discussion and screening of the film “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” an inspiring documentary starring Glen Campbell and his unforgettable Goodbye Tour.
Community members filled the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall to hear Glen Campbell’s wife Kim, his daughter Ashley, and other health officials discuss everything from becoming educated about the disease to coping with the stress and challenges of helping a family member with dementia.
Dr. Nicole Absar, clinical director at Copper Ridge Memory Clinic, shared her knowledge of early diagnosis of the disease and looking for consistent patterns of memory loss, sleep disorder, and personality change. “It’s so important for all of us to get educated about dementia presentation,” she said. “Early diagnosis is so crucial.”
Cass Naugle, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Maryland, discussed how technology has improved treatment of the disease and emphasized the importance of developing a network of support to better understand the challenges associated with Alzheimer’s. “We can’t change the course of the disease, but we can change how we deal with it,” she asserted.
Ashley Campbell shared her personal experience of providing support for her father as he navigates the disease. “I have a job to do to help him with his transitions,” she said. “I keep the focus on him. I don’t have Alzheimer’s. It’s not about me. It’s about him.”
Kim Campbell described her journey of a continual learning process that has gone through many different stages when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and had advice for caregivers for monitoring their own health throughout the process. “You need to stay connected with friends, other people, and who you are. Often caregivers feel isolated,” she explained.
Judah Ronch, dean of the Erickson School, presented welcoming remarks for the event, and Jaclyn Harris, president and CEO of Integrace, moderated the panel discussion. The screening of “I’ll Be Me” followed the panel discussion, and Ashley Campbell closed the event with a moving acoustic performance. To view photos, click here.