Country star Faith Hill recently opened up about what it was like to see her late father suffer from dementia. In the interview, published in People magazine on Thursday, Hill shared how her husband helped her get through the difficult times before, during, and after her dad’s death in 2019 following a long battle with Lewy body dementia that rendered him unrecognizable.
“It was a long passing,” Hill said of losing her father Ted Perry to the common form of progressive dementia. “It’s difficult to lose parents just a couple of years apart and watch them pass right in front of you,” said Hill, 54, who also lost her mother Edna back in 2016. “My dad had Lewy body dementia and it was difficult to watch a man you know be someone that you don’t recognize.”
Hill says that as her dad battled his disease, she leaned heavily on her husband of 25 years, fellow country musician Tim McGraw. “My dad adored Tim and Tim would visit him daily,” Hill told People. McGraw was also a major source of emotional support around the time Hill’s mom died five years ago. “He was so present for the passing of both my parents,” Hill said. The singer believes that enduring those challenges together only strengthened and deepened her bond with her husband. “You reveal yourself when you are going through struggles and that’s just another layer of partnership,” Hill explained.
Another struggle that has helped make the pair’s relationship stronger has been McGraw’s issues with alcohol. “Those demons always come back,” said McGraw, who quit drinking 13 years ago with Hill’s support. “But you always have a partner that’s willing to fight them with you. We made a commitment to each other a long time ago that we’re not going to give up. It’s too easy to give up,” he said. Hill echoed that sense of mutual commitment to help each other get through the tough times in life. “When you love someone, you commit to be there for them for the highs, the lows, anytime,” she added. “You face the struggles.”
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common type of progressive dementia following Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease is linked to abnormal deposits of a certain kind of protein in the brain, called Lewy bodies. Those deposits form in nerve cells within brain regions heavily involved in thought, memory, mood, movement, and behavior, the Mayo Clinic explains, causing a progressive loss of mental and physical capacities.
Symptoms of LBD include visual hallucinations (one of the earlier signs of the disease), movement issues (like rigid muscles and tremors), worsening regulation of body functions controlled by the autonomic nervous system (like blood pressure, pulse, sweating, and digestion), cognitive issues (like confusion and memory loss), sleep problems, attention issues (like episodes of drowsiness or staring into space), depression, and a loss of motivation. While there are a variety of medications that can help reduce certain symptoms of the disease, there is no cure, and people die from LBD an average of seven or eight years after their symptoms first emerge, the Mayo Clinic says.