BBC Reporter Visits Penfield Green House homes in Rochester, NY

By / Posted on July 30th, 2014

I was contacted by Sally Magnusson, a news anchor from BBC Glasgow and author, whose parents were both pioneers in UK broadcasting. She wrote a book called, Where Memories Go, about her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s; and she is now planning a book about Alzheimer’s and music. She contacted Dan Cohen (Music and Memory) to visit a home in NYC that’s using iPods, and he suggested she contact me, so she wrote to ask if she could fly up and visit during her trip.

We got together Saturday night to talk about my work on Dementia Beyond Disease and I had suggested that she visit Penfield Green House homes while she was in town. Green House guide, Kris Angevine and the elders/staff nicely accommodated us on Sunday morning for tea. We stopped at Malek’s, my favorite bakery, and got a couple of chocolate babkas, as well as bringing copies of my book for the homes.

When we arrived, Wendy Bacon-Stopani, one of the wonderful Shahbazim, was making a birthday cake, as well as some chicken cordon bleu for lunch. She explained the Shahbaz role to Sally and the collaborative nature of the work, with everyone pitching in to help out. Wendy said she wasn’t a natural chef, but had learned a lot at the home, and it showed!!

We sat at the dining room table sharing coffee, tea, and babka with several elders, including Lou, Martin, Don, Frannie, Marguerite, and Sarah. We shared stories, and we got a house tour from Dorothy who is a great hostess. Lexi, the new house dog also joined in the visit — what a wonderful dog she is!!

Although Sally’s original plan was to talk to the elders about their experiences with music, it was really just more of a social visit and a non-directed conversation. Sally found everyone to be delightful and loved the home. It was a whirlwind tour of innovation stateside, that will surely be remembered by this BBC reporter.