The Long Goodbye

By: Michael Lynch – Tobin Brothers Funerals
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“My husband, has stage 6 Alzheimer’s disease. He lives in a mental fog most of the time. He’s lost most of his language skills and has a hard time communicating. He still has moments of lucidity. He can make short sentences and say things like “I love you” and “We are so blessed.”

But in between those moments, he’s lost. He wanders. He can’t communicate. He doesn’t understand what others say to him”

Kim Campbell speaking recently about her husband GLEN CAMPBELL who once sold more records thanThe Beatles with hit songs such as Galveston, Witchita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix andRhinestone Cowboy.

Today, Campbell who’s 78, is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, a devastating illness that affects more than 27 million people world wide. While typically, most sufferers are over 65, in rare cases it has affected people who were much younger than that.

Alzheimer’s is the more prevalent form of dementia, which is loss of cognitive ability. Amongst its symptoms are confusion, loss of short term memory, mood swings, personality changes, language difficulties and the collapse of bodily functions. Sufferers however can live with Alzheimer’s for as long as ten years.

There are no known cures for Alzheimer’s amongst whose most notable suffers have been Hazel Hawke, former wife of Ex Labor PM, Bob Hawke; actors, Charlton Heston and Jack Lord; champion boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson and former US President Ronald Reagan whose wife Nancy famously referred to the disease as ‘The Long Goodbye’

Geriatricians say that whilst a number of anti-Alzheimer’s medications have been tried, there’s been no evidence that any has had the capacity to arrest or even delay the progress of the disease. However they say early diagnosis is critical in extending the life of the affected individual and that there are a number of ways that may help prevent the onset of the disease.

Take a 30 minute walk each day
Eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables
Lower high blood pressure
Maintain a healthy weight
Don’t smoke
Seek treatment for depression
Challenge your brain by doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, or Scrabble

As with many incurable diseases, some people will sometimes be persuaded to experiment with unorthodox medications and supplements that promise to prevent Alzheimer’s. Doctors say these so called treatments may be unsafe, a waste of money, or both and that people should consult their GP before going down that road.

No matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished, what your financial situation is – when you’re dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can’t work, can’t live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don’t know what to expect.

Maria Shriver

Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is a situation that can utterly consume the lives and well-being of the people giving care, just as the disorder consumes its victims.

Leeza Gibbons

Over 35 million people worldwide struggle with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Yet, despite the prevalence of Alzheimer’s, there’s still a powerful, stigma-fueled taboo attached to the disease.

In the minds of most, Alzheimer’s is a slow death sentence that gradually morphs a vibrant human being into a pitiable shell of their former selves—a zombie-like figure, sitting in a chair and staring out the window. Those with the disease hesitate to divulge their diagnosis to friends (and even family), for fear of being subjected to unintentional prejudice and isolation.

But the only individuals who really understand what life with Alzheimer’s is really like are those who are living with the disease—the patients, and their family members.

The debilitating haze of Alzheimer’s disease began its capricious descent on Hazel Hawke in 2001 and three years later she noted in typically laconic Australian style on her 75th birthday: ”It’s a bugger. It’s just bad luck. It’s an illness which is unpredictable, and when it comes you’ve just got to cope with it. It’s like losing your skin or something.” With a laugh, she added: ”But, in fact, you lose some of your head … your works.”

Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

Tobin Brothers Foundation Awards the Forgotten & Ignored

There are so many people in our community who are repeatedly ignored, unacknowledged or forgotten and the many small organisations striving to help them are fighting an uphill battle to obtain fund...

Christmas Message 2018

  Christmas is a wonderful occasion...but equally it can be a very tough day for many in the community. To everyone who is so very much looking forward to Christmas, I wish you a wonderful d...

Coping at Christmas 2018

If you have experienced loss the whole festive season can be extremely challenging.   Time and time again people have said to us they wish they could go to bed at the end of November and wake...

Art For The Heart: Beauty From Loss & Pain

This year’s Art For The Heart exhibition had substance and richness that lifted the spirit with honest, beautiful and sometimes provocative creative works relating to love, loss and hope. Shaped by...

Say It Now Week "Appreciation"

One of the very great sadness’s associated with the sudden death of a family member or close friend can, for the bereaved, be the lingering anguish and heartache associated with their not having to...

Six Songs That “Say It Now”

We Australians have always been a stoic lot - most of us are well-practiced in keeping emotions to ourselves. I often get the impression that Aussies of a certain age would rather have a tooth pull...

Prostate Cancer Breakthrough

  "Together in Discovery and Care" is the theme for the 19th Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference taking place in Brisbane from the 22-25 August 2018. Prostate cancer is the most c...

Valda Twaddle Trust Awards 2017

In 2006 I received a telephone call from Perry Westons Lawyers regarding funds that were bequeathed to me.  I made an appointment to attend their offices and in doing so I learnt that Valda Tw...

Cultural Diversity Week : Premier's Gala 2018

Tobin Brothers Funerals is honored to have over 200 wonderful staff from a diverse range of cultures and religions who together can speak 28 different languages. This year we’re once again proud to...

Funerals Are Too Important To Leave To Just Anyone

As Managing Director of Australia’s largest owned family funeral company, Tobin Brothers Funerals, I would like to make the following comments on the widely reported alleged coffin swapping by Hart...