Fran Panella is an amazing woman, a true Dementia Whisperer.
Here is Fran working with the kids at Lakewood Music-
This summer Fran did an "Inspired by Alive Inside" youth project with a non-profit organization in New Jersey.
She matched 5 students with elders living at home with dementia, four of them live with a caregiver
- a wife
- 2 daughters
- a son and
- one lives alone with two daughters who live nearby and take turns visiting their Mom, doing her laundry, cooking, medications etc. and also have their own families.
except for one of our participants who was 18 and did her visits to the home alone.
All the kids plan to keep their relationships going with their elders and have given headsets to the families.
Here are the stories:
1. Rose & Bill:
Rose is a college student, she connects well with Bill who lives with his loving wife, Claire.
They used to go out dancing when they were younger, but Bill is really declined and barely speaks now and needs 24/7 care.
He still loves music - especially Sinatra.
Rose is a musician and brings in her guitar to play and sing for him.
2. Brodie and Bonnie:
Brody is an 8th grade boy who visits Bonnie with his Mentor (Mom) Tara.
Bonnie lives alone and was longing for some company.
Her two daughters do their best visiting each day...making sure she eats, has her medications and cleans up, but they have families and jobs and can't be with her all the time.
Brody uses his laptop for their music and they found a mutual love for You Tube videos and ice cream.
Brody and Bonnie are definitely buds!
Bonnie loves his smile and calls him "Smiley" as she looks lovingly at him.
After many tries, Brody finally found one of her favorite songs....Country Road by John Denver - she sang all the words. She asked Brody if he could get a copy of it for her and sang out loud almost all of the words.
Bonnie grew up in West Virginia
and loves to tell stories of her time there.
She is a Joy to be around.
Brody is a special young man - kind and gentle!
This is Brody and Bonnie trying to dance!
3.Kenley and Vito:
Kenley is 9 years old and visits Vito with her Mentor (Mom) Katie.
Vito was a professional trumpet player and an artist.
He hasn't played his trumpet or painted any pieces in years, but his artwork lines the walls of his home.
His wife is still madly in love with him and tries to keep their life as "normal" as possible, but it is getting more and more difficult.
She is clinging to anything that connects Vito as he declines.
Kenley immediately connected with Vito and they found his favorite Dizzy Gillespie music the first day!
She said in a video her Mom took that if she "helps one person, she is really helping the whole entire world...and that one person can make a difference".
Her mom, Katie wrote this after the 2nd visit:
"Kenley absolutely adores this man. She was dancing for him today and he calls her "sweetheart."
We listen to Dizzy together and chat about how great he was.
Thank you for allowing Kenley to participate in this amazing project.
She has learned so much about the human spirit and how we can touch each other's lives with music."
4. Jayden and Peter:
4. Jayden visits Peter with his Mentor (Mom) Laurie.
They share his Spanish language and it makes him so happy to sing and speak with them.
They play dominoes and look at pictures of his native Puerto Rico.
He is brought to tears singing, "Ay ya yai yai...."