The Turtles’ Mark Volman Reveals Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis: ‘I Want the Most Out of Every Day’ (Exclusive)

The Turtles’ charter member Mark Volman, 76, is opening up for the first time about his medical diagnosis with Lewy body dementia in an unique story in this week’s concern of PEOPLE. The “Happy Together” vocalist learned he had the progressive neurological disorder in 2020 after experiencing hallucinations, tremblings and struggles with concentration. With a brand-new book out and a trip, Volman is continuing to live a full life despite the destructive illness, the very same disease that Ted Turner and Robin Williams were identified with.

At his house outside Nashville, Mark Volman stops briefly for a minute to take a look at a red floral couch across the room. “Do you see a woman with her head bleeding?” he asks, eyeing the sofa. No, he’s informed, it’s just a sofa.

Volman, an establishing member of the ’60s rock band The Turtles, has a history with this particular piece of furnishings: During the isolation of the pandemic, his mind started to distort the crimson flower pattern into the disconcerting vision he’s simply seen. Volman desires to make particular she isn’t genuine. “OK,” he says, matter-of-factly, and then returns to presenting for the electronic camera.

Volman’s hallucination is a hallmark symptom of a kind of Lewy body dementia (LBD), a progressive brain disorder that affects thinking, memory and movement. The second-most common kind of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s, LBD impacts an estimated 1.4 million individuals in the U.S. and is triggered by an accumulation of clumps of protein (referred to as Lewy bodies) in afferent neuron in the brain. Volman’s kind of the disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, “quickly imitates other illness,” consisting of Alzheimer’s, says Kristen Pilote, an adult and gerontology acute-care nurse specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who deals with Volman.

‘ It Was Not Depression That Killed Robin’: Susan Williams Opens up to PEOPLE About Husband’s Battle with Lewy Body Dementia.

Since his diagnosis in 2020, Volman has been finding out to deal with the obstacles of the illness, including changes in cognitive capability and awareness, visual hallucinations, disturbed REM sleep disorder and tremblings and Parkinson-like motion signs. He also understands that what’s ahead will be a lot more difficult. Gradually, the results of the illness will progress into a “sluggish decrease that will ultimately hinder his capability to function,” says Pilote, who specializes in cognitive neurology.

Volman states he’s selecting to accept it as an unanticipated next chapter. “I got struck by the knowledge that this was going to develop a whole new part of my life. And I stated, ‘OK, whatever’s going to happen will take place, however I’ll reach I can.’ “.

Volman began his musical career in Los Angeles with that exact same sort of optimism. In 1963 he signed up with high school schoolmate Howard Kaylan’s band the Crossfires as a roadie, however his balancing skills quickly elevated him to what he calls “second banana” status in the group. Relabelled the Turtles, the band had its first Top 10 hit in 1965 with a version of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.”.

A number of hits followed, including their hallmark, “Happy Together,” which in 1967 knocked the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” off the top slot. With his mass of curly hair, large smile and transmittable tambourine-twirling energy, Volman was a standout.

In 1970, however, not long after playing a show at the White House for President Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia (they were her favorite band), the Turtles separated in the middle of a conflict with their record company, and Volman and Kaylan began performing as the duo Flo & Eddie, signing up with Frank Zappa’s band the Mothers of Invention and appearing on albums for artists as differed as Alice Cooper, T. Rex and Duran Duran.

The memories of those heady days, partying with John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, singing with Bruce Springsteen and Bono, are chronicled in his brand-new memoir Happy Forever, out June 20. “It all seem like a dream now,” Volman says. “I’m simply a groupie at heart.”.

The musician’s profession took another surprising turn when he went back to school in his 40s and graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a master’s in screenwriting in 1999. “I keep in mind slurring, and I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he states. I ‘d go off track.

When carrying out Turtles tunes on trip one year, “I heard a girl say, ‘His hand’s shaking,'” he remembers. “The only individual I knew related to the disease was Robin Williams– and he’s dead,” says Volman. (The actor passed away by suicide in 2014 after suffering agonizing physical and psychological symptoms of the disease for years.).

Undoubtedly LBD patients will deal with a future in which they will lose the ability to care for themselves; research studies have actually revealed that patients normally live 8 years post-diagnosis. “But Mark is an exception– he’s a terrific example of durability in the setting of an incapacitating illness,” his nurse Pilote states. “He’s positive and charismatic, and he’s surrounded by individuals who appreciate him.”.

Unbelievably, those people include his 2 ex-wives, who both live within a few miles of Volman and who, along with his two grown children, help him daily. “He gets anxious at times– like any mourning procedure, it ebbs and flows,” states Emily Volman, who was married to Mark for 15 years, up until 2015. “But he’s a ‘live for today’ person.”.

On medication to assist manage his tremblings and hallucinations (” Mark has amazing self-awareness of those, which has actually been valuable in his lifestyle,” Pilote states), Volman is committed to day-to-day exercise. “We call him the mayor of the Y,” says Emily. He goes to the YMCA daily for circuit training, boxing classes and to stroll.

Those workouts have helped him prepare for going on the roadway once again with the Happy Together trip, an annual ’60s music fest that Volman and The Turtles (minus Kaylan, who has actually stopped visiting due to health issues) heading. He travels by bus since, he states, “it’s the best location for me to be. “I heard them going, ‘Dad!’ “.

He takes upon the minutes when he can make fun of himself, despite the fact that he’s mindful of challenging days to come. “Right now, for me, it’s not scary, although it most likely needs to be,” Volman states.

And staying active can benefit patients with LBD, Pilote states. “Living with dementia with Lewy bodies, you still have to live,” she states. “It’s crucial to engage in the things you take pleasure in, optimize your strengths, spend time doing the things you like with the individuals you enjoy.

And Volman states he does not plan to stop. And I want individuals to connect with me.”.

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