The woman who sang that there has got to be a morning after may soon no longer remember if they made it to the shore. Maureen McGovern, best known for singing movie hits "The Morning After" from the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure; and "We May Never Love Like This Again" from The Towering Inferno in 1974, announced she has been diagnosed with a variant of Alzheimer's disease.
The 73-year-old singer released a video on her Facebook page where she shared the news. The video was voiced over photographs of her career and even referenced being the singing nun in the 1980 movie “Air Plane.”
Looking back to my early age of 18, I began my first solo career playing guitar and singing Folk music.
She said you had to start somewhere, and she never gave up despite the ups and downs of her career. All that changed, she said, in 1972.
"But in 1972, all of that changed when I recorded "The Morning After" for The Poseidon Adventure, and my journey as a singer and recording artist took off for the next four decades! However, my life has now taken a different path. I've been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy with symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia."
Posterior Cortical Atrophy
The Grammy winner has been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) and is showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
"What I do, or what I am still able to accomplish, has changed. I can no longer travel or perform in live concerts. In fact, I can no longer drive — how's that for a kick in the butt?"
PCA is a neurodegenerative syndrome. According to Northwestern University Medicine, PCA affects the back of the brain, responsible for processing visual information. The symptoms of PCA include difficulty with vision, using everyday items like a phone, and the inability to read or write. The symptoms will progress over time. PCA is most commonly caused by Alzheimer's disease.
"At first, I began having trouble finding in my mind the words I wanted to say. I struggled with the inevitable shock with fear and, frankly, hopelessness."
There is no cure for PCA, but there is treatment that can slow the progression of the disease. Dr. Brad Dickerson, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, says vision problems are often an early sign of PCA.
"Many people with posterior cortical atrophy have a few years where they have some gradual difficulty with vision of various types. Some people trouble seeing or understanding other people's faces."
Reading becomes difficult because it requires complicated visual function. Dickerson says PCA also creates the inability to accurately judge spatial relationships or reach for objects. Those with PCA struggle with their sense of direction.
Signs and Symptoms of PCA
Mayo Clinic says the most common signs and symptoms of PCA include having problems with:
Reading, spelling, or math
Telling the difference between objects that are moving and those that are still
Identifying how far away objects are
Using everyday objects or tools
Identifying left from right
Changes in behavior and personality
McGovern says she still has a passion for music. She says the diagnosis "is not going to keep me from living my life."
"We are all patients and caregivers at some time in our lives."
Millions Have Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer's Association says that some studies have found that about 5% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease have posterior cortical atrophy. However, because posterior cortical atrophy often goes unrecognized, the true percentage may be as high as 15%.
An estimated 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's in 2022. Memory loss is one of the leading reasons people require help with daily living activities, including supervision. Long-term health care costs are substantial, and many families are unaware until it is too late that health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, pays little to nothing toward long-term care services.
Often adult children must juggle their job and family responsibilities to become caregivers for a parent with dementia or other need for long-term health care. These family caregivers find out very quickly the physical and emotional demands of being a caregiver are too much. However, since professional care is expensive, they must find a way to be caregivers or exhaust savings for professional care.
Medicaid will pay for long-term health care, including Alzheimer's care, if the care recipient has little or no income or assets. Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for all types of long-term health care, but policies cannot be purchased once someone needs care.
LTC Insurance Pays for Care – But You Cannot Buy Coverage When You Need Care
Many people avoid obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance because they are under the impression that premiums are very expensive. Premiums can be costly, but most people obtain coverage in their 50s when premiums are much more affordable. Premiums also vary in cost by over 100% between insurance companies.
Long-Term Care Insurance will pay for all levels and types of long-term health care services, including memory care and in-home care. As the costs of care increase, the benefits from a policy will not only give the policyholder access to their choice of quality care services but will also preserve their savings.
McGovern joins many celebrities who have suffered from dementia of some kind. Millions of Americans and many millions worldwide have dementia. It is a global problem as more people are living to older ages, and a higher risk of dementia comes with longevity.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
As we see the entertainment and sports figures that we grew up with suffer from physical and cognitive health problems, we should realize that aging is a reality even for us.
With longevity comes the need to prepare for the costs and burdens of aging. Our health, body, and mind will decline over time. Long-term health care costs are exploding and pose a financial disaster for our future retirement.
However, long-term care means more than just money. The impact on our family is hard to calculate. When you add a Long-Term Care Insurance policy to your retirement plan, you will have access to quality care, protect your savings, and give loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers.
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Find an experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find appropriate coverage at the best value. Be sure they work with the top companies and understand underwriting, policy design, and claims.
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Inaccurate or incomplete information about long-term care planning is common on the internet. Not every financial advisor or a general insurance agent has the background and experience to help you with long-term health care planning. LTC NEWS can help.
You have questions, and LTC NEWS has the answers. See the most commonly asked questions about long-term health care planning, along with accurate answers to these questions - Frequently Asked Questions.
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How About Elderly Parents?
If your older parents or family members are declining and need help now, what can you do to help? You can get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether or not they have an LTC policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
Is a Reverse Mortgage Helpful?
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource. You can fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance.
You might be eligible at younger ages as well.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew," will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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