Monday, June 23, 2014


What do Kemal Amin Kasem and Estelle Scher-Gettleman have in common?

I grew up listening to the hit tunes played by D.J. Casey Kasem who was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Lebanese immigrants. Kasem was also a radio personality and voice artist.

I also watched The Golden Girls television show weekly and even now watch the reruns. It was one of my favorites. Actress Estelle Getty was born in New York to Polish immigrants and played Sophia Petrillo on the show.

Kasem died at age 82 on June 15, 2014, and Getty died at age 84 on July 22, 2008. Kasem was vegan and a political liberal. Getty was Jewish, but played a devout Catholic on the show.

Getty wrote an autobiography entitled “If I Knew Then, What I Know Now...So What?” She was also a supporter of gay rights.

They were similar in that they were both first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which later was found to be false. They both had Lewy body disease/dementia, clumps of certain proteins in neurons of the body.

Lewy body disease (LBD) symptoms clinically overlap with Parkinson's disease and are often misdiagnosed as such. Lewy body disease is a degeneration of cognitive function, degeneration of motor control, with a rapid or acute onset. It progresses more rapidly than Alzheimers.

Caregiving to patients is important because dramatic swings between good and bad days, high and low cognitiveness, and movement problems are common. Sharp changes in behavior and health can be triggered by changes in the daily routine or home environment.

In my opinion, after researching this disease recently, Jean Thompson Kasem made a big mistake in moving Casey Kasem from a California nursing home to the State of Washington to keep him away from his three children from his first marriage. The move triggered a rapid decline in his quality of life and health. I don't think Jean realized the consequences of her actions. It reminds me of the dumb-blonde character, Loretta, she played in the Cheers TV series.

Another well-known victim of LBD was William Stiles Bennet II, a son and grandson of Congressmen from New York, and one of the original inventors of Yoplait yogurt.

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