The Turtles’ Mark Volman revealed he had been diagnosed with a severe form of dementia in 2020 but vowed to keep touring for as long as he was able.

Lewy body dementia, which notably led to comedian Robin Williams' death in 2014, involves hallucinations, physical tremors and confusion. Symptoms become worse over time, with most patients dying within eight years of diagnosis. Volman expressed determination in a new interview with People, saying, “I got hit by the knowledge that this was going to create a whole new part of my life. And I said, ‘OK, whatever’s going to happen will happen, but I’ll go as far as I can.’”

The 76-year-old guitarist and singer said he started to notice something was wrong in 2018. “I remember slurring, and I wasn’t sure what was going on,” he recalled. “My brain wandered. I’d go off track. It made no sense.” During the interview, he asked if a sofa in the room was a woman whose head was bleeding, and on being assured that no one else could see it, he continued with the interview.

“Right now, for me, it’s not scary, although it probably should be,” Volman reflected. His latest Happy Together tour – named after the Turtles’ biggest hit, but no longer featuring lifelong friend Howard Kaylan, who retired in 2018 – is underway, and he’s found it’s best if he travels between shows by bus. “It’s the safest place for me to be. I can’t get lost or hurt,” he explained. (Volman and Kaylan have also performed as Flo & Eddie.)

His support group includes his two daughters and his two ex-wives, who help him manage medication and exercise regimes. His specialist physician, Kristen Pilote, admitted he was facing a “slow decline that will eventually interfere with his ability to function,” although she added that Volman “is an exception – he’s a great example of resilience in the setting of a debilitating illness. He’s upbeat and charismatic, and he’s surrounded by people who care about him.”

Volman argued that “the challenges of this world affect everybody, and it’s been kind of fun being on the other side of a challenge like this and saying, ‘I feel good.’ My friends are here. I’m still here. And I want people to connect with me.”

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