Fans knew something was wrong when he could not remember the lyrics to songs he’d sung for decades. But for David Cassidy, it was a long-held fear come to fruition.
The 1970s teen heartthrob who gained fame on the Partridge Family television show, David Cassidy announced last month that he is suffering from dementia. He is no stranger to the disease. His grandfather had dementia. His mother, actress Rachel Ward, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2002, passing away ten years later at age 89. In recent years the musician has become an advocate for Alzheimer’s research; in 2012, he auctioned off some of his old costumes to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
Cassidy is not shying away from discussing his diagnosis. “People don’t really want to talk about it, but we need to, which is why I’m going to be speaking publicly about it,” Cassidy told the Daily Mail. He will appear on the Dr. Phil show on March 1, and the March 6 issue of People will feature an interview, “My Battle with Dementia.” Cassidy’s last concert, capping off 49 years of touring, is scheduled for March 4 at BB Kings in New York.
Nearly 80% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s Disease, but other diseases may also trigger it. For example, vascular dementia is caused by damage to the brain’s blood vessels. Lewy Body dementia, which afflicted Robin Williams and radio personality Casey Kasem, is brought on by abnormal protein deposits in the brain. Those with a family history of dementia appear to be at greater risk. It occurs mainly in older people; a 2016 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 3% of people between ages 65 and 74 have dementia. Although the disease is degenerative and progressive, certain habits, such as a healthy diet and exercise, may forestall the diagnosis or slow progression.
It’s a modern-day catch 22: Thanks to medical advancements, we are living longer. But because we’re living longer, we are more likely to experience chronic disease. And it’s not only a medical problem: Increasing numbers of families now struggle with the cost of a loved one’s long-term care. Although there is no cure yet for dementia, there may be a solution to the financial dilemma it can create. You may be able to tap into Medicaid benefits without “spending down” and losing your nest egg to nursing home costs. And if you are a veteran or the widow of a veteran, you may under certain circumstances qualify for VA Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance. Contact our firm for assistance from our Florida Bar Certified Elder Law Attorneys.