Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Presents New Challenge for "Bravest Man in the Universe"

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"I got a story I want to tell
Gather round me
Gather round me boys and girls"

—Bobby Womack, "The Bravest Man in the Universe," June 2012

He's survived two different types of cancer (colon and prostate) and toured while suffering from two collapsed lungs and pneumonia. Now, singer/songwriter Bobby Womack faces a newer, deadlier challenge: Alzheimer's disease.

At age 68, the man who inspired Jimi Hendrix and has worked with a pantheon of musical legends—from the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley, to Aretha Franklin and the Gorillaz—has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's, reports the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

"I once was lost,
But now I'm found
When I bear up so high,
I always know how to come down…"

—Bobby Womack, "The Bravest Man in the Universe," June 2012

Womack visited a doctor after he started having trouble remembering the names of his colleagues and the words to his songs.

"How can I not remember songs that I wrote? That's frustrating," Womack told BBC reporter Giles Peterson.

Alzheimer's memory loss typically follows a particular pattern—referred to as "first-in, last out…last in, first out."

The disease first robs a person of their short-term recall (what they did a few hours ago, the names of new acquaintances). Eventually childhood and young adult memories are also affected. The timetable varies from person to person; some individuals experience rapid deterioration of their recollections, while others may decline over a number of years.

"The bravest man in the Universe
Is the one who has forgiven first
Yeah, shame on me, shame on you,
It's up to us,
What we say and what we do."

—Bobby Womack, "The Bravest Man in the Universe," June 2012

Following in the footsteps of other luminaries recently diagnosed with dementia (Glen Campbell, Pat Summitt), Womack refuses to surrender his passion for music to Alzheimer's.

Along with seeking support from a network of reliable family and friends, experts agree that continuing to pursue the activities that they have a passion for is a key to helping a person cope with an Alzheimer's diagnosis and can help keep their minds sharp for as long as possible.

"With the support of many good doctors, my family, and all of my wonderful fans, I will continue to write, and perform and bring good music to the people for as long as I can," the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee told CNN reporters.

Really, one should expect nothing less from the man whose latest album, entitled, "The Bravest Man in the Universe," gained critical acclaim in 2012 as a soul-moving work of lyrical art.

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