Vetter Health Services Partners to Bring Glen Campbell Documentary to Lincoln

In 2011, music legend Glen Campbell set out on an unprecedented tour across America. They thought it would last 5 weeks instead it went for 151 spectacular sold out shows over a triumphant year and a half across America.
What made this tour extraordinary was that Glen had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, Glen and his wife went public with his diagnosis and announced that he and his family would set out on a “Goodbye Tour.”

The film documents this amazing journey as he and his family attempt to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing disease using love, laughter and music as their medicine of choice.  “I’ll Be Me” is a documentary that fulfills Glen Campbell’s expressed-on-camera wish that his Alzheimer’s journey be used to raise awareness of the disease.

Cameo Gllenn Kim

VHS Home Office Team Member – Cameo Rogers, Life Enrichment Coordinator, CTRS, CDP, CDCM, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and certified Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care trainer through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners was a part of the Care Forum, as well as viewing the film, she shares the following:

It was incredibly touching, inspiring, and heartbreaking at the same time. It was beautiful to see how Glen’s musical gifts and strengths of humor and faith continued to be areas that gave him moments of joy along with his family.

Glen’s wife Kim was incredible. She is a strong woman of faith who has kept her focus on the bigger picture and I am in awe how vulnerable she was and how transparent their family was in fighting the stigma and the shadow of Alzheimer’s. This film will empower families facing this disease process. It gives a face and a voice to Alzheimer’s.

Glen’s daughter Ashley is poised, bright, incredibly talented in her own right, and something she said in the film touched my heart. She was talking of how when you experience a loved one’s anger or out of character responses as a family member, how quickly the person with Alzheimer’s forgets and moves on, but how the loved one affected continues on with the emotional residue of the experience. She said, “It’s like forgiveness without reconciliation.” It is a reminder of how much team members need to provide support and validation to family and community caregivers, who are carrying such a heavy burden and are giving so much of themselves for their loved ones.

This film brought me tears, made me laugh, and gave me hope that we can shine a spotlight on a disease that affects so many, and we can help people understand how much of a person’s identity, passions, strengths, and talents can provide for moments of joy, even late in the disease process.

Although the person with Alzheimer’s’ may not remember names, roles of individuals, whether they had breakfast, there is an emotion tied to each interaction. It is important for family members and team members to focus on the quality of the time spent, even in silence, or in doing something pleasant together. A smile, wink, holding of hand, a hug, and just sitting pleasantly together watching the birds can be beautiful and lasting memories.

It was incredible to be a part of the memory care forum and hear from James Keach, the producer of the film, why he felt called to do this movie after meeting Glen. Keach said when he was first approached by the Campbells about filming the documentary, he admitted to being hesitant because, “well, it was Alzheimer’s to be honest.” Keach is happy to report that his initial reluctance couldn’t have been more misguided. “This changed my life,” said Keach, speaking after the first of the day’s two screenings of “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” The message resonates with all ages, he said. “I like to call this ‘Rocky with a guitar,’” said Keach. “Even my teen-age son sat through it and then said: “Wow … that’s what Alzheimer’s is?” People are discovering that the documentary is not sad and depressing, although most people think it will be.”

Kim was inspiring and it was interesting when she shared about the gift that Glen purchased for her for their anniversary and how she did not understand his actions and put back the Pepto Bismol he picked up for her because she liked pink. She said how even if we do not understand why they are doing something that it may be perfectly logical to them, and how we need to really look at the person.

Cameo authentically conveyed the importance of knowing the person, focusing on positive things to do together when families visit, and our understanding that approach, communication, engagement, and pain management are often the best ways to prevent out of character responses.

Also serving on the panel for the memory care forum were Julie Kaminski, MGS, executive director of LeadingAge Nebraska, the state’s premier advocacy group for non-profit Elder Care providers; Dennis L. Molfese, Ph.D., director of the Brain Imaging Center at UNL and director of UNL’s Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory; and Kristine Dykeman-Schoening, vice president of continuum of Tabitha.

CNN has picked up domestic broadcast rights to Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The cable channel plans to premiere the PCH Films documentary in June and air it again in November.

Excerpts Reprinted with Permission from the Lincoln Journal Star

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