Caregiver Angels - Fran!


Fran Pannella is an amazing woman, a true Dementia Whisperer. 


Fran is growing an Alive Inside Coalition Inspired project with a  New Jersey non-profit. 


They call their program  "Connection Thru Music" - 



She now has paired over 20 students with their "Elder Buddies"  who have Dementia.
They visit in the home of the elder with a mentor, usually a parent or grandparent.
They spend building friendship, learning their new Buddy's life story and sharing music that they loved.   
All have gone through a Dementia Awareness and Empathy building workshop and
have created Song list using the Alive Inside APP.
Alive Inside has impacted 20 young people to feel purpose and learn real empathy....
20 adult volunteer mentors to be moved to see their young loved one empowered in this way.........
20 individuals with dementia to have the chance to feel a sense of self, connection, and love and
to experience their music and the memories it evokes.....and 20 family caregivers who have the chance
to see their loved one smile, laugh and be "their Mom again"! 
 Profound Life experience for 100 people!!!  


These great kids have been participating for over 4 years. 




1. Brody and Bonnie


Brody met Bonnie when he was living in her home alone.  Bonnie had help from family but spent most of her days isolated since stopping her daily visits to the local senior center.     After a few weeks of visiting with Bonnie and learning her life story, Brody and his Mom, Tara discovered one of her favorite songs.   It was Country Road by John Denver! Although this was not a song from her childhood…. she immediately sang all the words and it brought her right to her childhood in West Virginia!   It led her to talk about her Dad working on the railroad and YES, she sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. Since then Bonnie has moved into a nursing home, but Brody still makes time to visit her and she still calls him Smiley Every Time!

Brody is now finishing up his sophomore year in high school is still a participant and advocate for our program whenever possible.

Luke and Maria


As participants in the first Pilot Alive Inside  “Adopt an Elder” Program...Luke and Maria were a perfect match from the beginning.   Maria who we were told, was non -verbal when Luke met her – blossomed in his presence.......We think that  Luke reminded her of one of her 5th-grade students when she was a teacher.   He shared Sinatra music with her, and she began talking about seeing Sinatra when she was young.  She often told Luke that he “was doing a good job”!!   




Kenley, our youngest volunteer, has been paired now with 4 different Elder Buddies......and is a volunteer advocate for the Alive Inside Foundation mission.   

One of her matches was Eta....a beautiful experience with this special 90 + year old woman who we found out was her Mom Katie’s Nursery School Teacher!!   Eta shared many stories of her young days working in a family hotel and then raising chickens on her farm before starting the nursery school. Eta’s favorite music included Show Tunes and Classical music.     It was Eta’s last wish before she died was to be able to HELP others learn how to create music playlists for those elders in need. That is Exactly what we helped her to do......we created an instructional Video with Eta as the Teacher! 

Another special match was with 97-year-old Mario a WWII Veteran who was part of the D Day Invasion.  They two had a very special relationship in the months before Mario passed away. He especially loved seeing her each visit.... he thought she was Beautiful!  They enjoyed listening to Sinatra and talked about his days as a teenager in Hoboken and his time in the army.

Advocate for AIF, Kenley speaks at many events and even in her School! 


JD and Linda


JD a middle school student and musician from Lakehouse Music Academy met Linda last summer at the Asbury Park Day Center.  Linda immediately connected to JD’s kind and gentle personality. JD made sure he brought Linda ALL of her favorite Country and Beatles song that her family shared with us.... then added many more to that playlist.........they sang together, used shakers, a tambourine and triangle to enjoy the music and build their relationship.


JD has a heart of Gold and plans on continuing to participate next summer and mentor future students who want to participate.


Camille and Lois


Camille, a High School Senior met Lois last summer at We Care Adult Day Care Center.    The two became fast friends with their shared love for traditional Golden Oldies and Show Tunes....dancing and singing during their visits....they gave each other the gift of JOY every moment they were together!



Contact: Francine Pannella, LPN, CDP, ASFA-CPT
Owner, The Best You Fitness, LLC



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