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04 Jun 2019

Music as Medicine? Glen Campbell’s Widow is on a Mission to Help.

Can music alleviate depression, reduce the need for drugs—or even prevent illness by boosting the immune system? Kim Campbell, widow of pop-country music legend Glen, witnessed the healing power of music when her husband was battling Alzheimer’s disease. “Music as medicine” is the mission of the new Kim and Glen Campbell Foundation. Its goal is to use music to improve the lives of those with mental illness or cognitive impairments and their caregivers.  

“When Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, he didn’t stop making music; in fact, he went on tour. Music brought him joy, meaning, and purpose. His doctors had no doubt that his persistence in the musical arena helped to preserve intellectual functioning far longer than would have been expected. In the end, music lifted our spirits and gave us ways to connect with Glen when words could no longer reach him,” says Kim, who was married to Glen for 34 years. “Music also helped me manage the crushing depression of losing my husband to Alzheimer’s.” Since Glen’s death, Kim has become a tireless, influential voice for all people facing Alzheimer’s. An impassioned speaker, who has an intimate understanding of the complex challenges faced by people living with dementia and their families, she has spoken to numerous healthcare and community organizations. She also launched CareLiving.org, a blog and lifestyle guide providing resources, inspiration and a sense of community to this underserved group.  

The first project of the foundation, funded by donations and last fall’s first annual Glen Campbell Memorial Celebrity Golf Outing, is to design and install immersive listening rooms in non-profit Memory Care communities.  

With this project and others, the Kim & Glen Campbell Foundation is advancing the use of music as medicine to alleviate depression, manage behaviors, boost cognition, and alter the brain chemistry associated with well-being and stress reduction. As award-winning neuroscientist, musician, and best-selling author Daniel J. Levitin, a grant recipient of the Campbell Foundation has said, “We are on the cusp of figuring out how music can be used as part of an integrated therapy program…the coming five years promises great new advances.”  

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