Glen Campbell Moved to a Care Facility for His Own Safety, Says Family
"We were just struggling every second to keep him safe," the singer's wife tells PEOPLE
After a constant juggling of shifts to keep an eye on Glen Campbell around the clock, his family made the decision to move him into a memory care facility in Nashville.
The transition, they tell PEOPLE, was in the best interest of the “Rhinestone Cowboy” singer, who has been living with Alzheimer’s for over three years.
“There were five of us taking care of him and we were all completely exhausted,” says Campbell’s wife, Kim Woolen. “No one was getting any sleep and we were just struggling every second to keep him safe – we felt like it wasn’t safe anymore.”
The couple’s daughter Ashley, 27, agrees that the move, which occurred in March, was for the best. “[It can be dangerous] with all the household appliances and dish soap liquid and olive oil,” she says. “He’ll drink anything … if you lose concentration for a second, he could hurt himself.”
Campbell, Woolen and her children are the focus of a new documentary called Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me, which had its premiere at the Nashville Film Festival on Friday night. It follows the family as they deal with different stages of the disease during Campbell’s Goodbye tour in 2012, though according to director and producer James Keach, ultimately the movie’s message is less about the disease, and more about love, family, and the ties that bind.
“This is a love story,” Keach says. “It’s about a man who is in love with a woman, and together they’re walking the road of life. It’s funny and uplifting and empowering. It’s inspirational, like Rocky with a guitar. At the heart of it, it’s about love, it’s about joy, it’s about music.”
Producer Trevor Albert concurs. “The movie is not specifically about Alzheimer’s – it’s about how you choose to treat one another,” he says. “People came expecting to see a train wreck, and what they experienced was the most loving and accepting family. That’s somehow empowering.”
And although Campbell is now living at the facility full-time, he is able to leave any time his support circle – including Kim, Ashley and son Shannon – take him out. Recently, they brought him back to their house for a family dinner.
“He’s made friends there. Everybody loves him there. It’s a beautiful setting, it’s very secure,” Kim says.
And while Campbell struggles to remember some things, he has never forgotten his love of music.
“He plays guitar there. He’s got this little guitar … he picked it up and stood up in the living area in front of some of the residents and he played a couple songs,” Kim recalls of his first day there. “Then he thanked them all for coming. Then he went over and laid down on the sofa and took a nap. It was so sweet.”
• Reporting by DEBORAH EVANS PRICE