In an emotional interview with Dr. Phil McGraw that will air on Wednesday, the famous singer and actor David Cassidy revealed that he was diagnosed with “early stage” dementia about two and a half years ago, but he kept the diagnosis a secret. However, after footage emerged showing him falling off the stage, slurring his speech, and rambling desultorily while having trouble recalling the lyrics of songs he has performed for decades, the former The Partridge Family star decided to reveal his diagnosis to the public. He also announced that he was retiring.
In the first TV interview since his stage accident earlier in the month while performing in Augora Hills, California, Cassidy pushed back against rumors that he had been drinking at the time he fell off the stage, Today reports.
“I certainly wasn’t intoxicated and it [drinking] has nothing to do with why I’m leaving [retiring].”
He insisted that he was not intoxicated, but admitted that doctors had told him that he was in the early stages of dementia more than two years ago. Cassidy said he realized he needed to see a doctor when family members and close friends began making observations about his memory and behavior that suggested he could be experiencing the first signs of mental disease.
“When friends of yours or family members begin to say to you, ‘remember I just told you this two days ago’ and there’s no memory of it that’s when I began to be very concerned,” Cassidy said, wiping a tear from the corner of an eye.
Many viewers of the footage that showed him falling off the stage had claimed that he was intoxicated with alcohol, according to Us Weekly. But during the interview with Dr. Phil, Cassidy insisted that he fell after tripping on a stage monitor.
Viewers assumed that Cassidy was intoxicated because he is known to have struggled with drinking problems some years back. He was arrested multiple times for driving under intoxication (DUI) and required as part of the sentence to go to a rehab in 2014.
“But I certainly wasn’t intoxicated and it [alcohol] has nothing to do with why I’m leaving.”
“Certainly my dementia has contributed to the reason why I don’t want to go out,” he continued. “I don’t want to hear, ‘Well, he looked like he was drunk’ — I wasn’t.”
He also revealed that dementia runs in his family. His mother and grandfather had suffered from dementia. Cassidy’s mother, Evelyn Ward, suffered from dementia until she died in 2012 at the age of 89, according to the Daily Mail.
And because of his family history of dementia, Cassidy had feared, long before the first symptoms appeared, that he could also develop the disease
“I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming.”
He said he had always feared he could end up like his mother.
“In the end, the only way I knew she recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room… I feared I would end up that way,” Cassidy said.
He shared with Dr. Phil his anxiety about becoming a burden to his family. He told his 26-year-old son Beau that he did not want to suffer like his mother before she died of dementia.
“I want you to promise me you’ll find a way to let me go and don’t let me live like that,” Cassidy told his son.
Dr. Phil later told Today that Cassidy said he spoke out because he wanted to assure his fans that he is “okay” although he is “in the very early stages of dementia.”
He also said Cassidy wanted to help to raise awareness about the condition.
“I think he is really becoming an activist with regard to dementia. His grandfather died of dementia. His mother died of dementia,” Dr. Phil said.
Cassidy has struggled with financial and legal troubles recently.
He reportedly owes creditors about $200,000, and according to the Daily Mail, he promised in his bankruptcy case to pay off his debts by continuing to perform. But it is unlikely that he would be able to settle his debts as planned because he has to retire due to his dementia diagnosis.
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