60/20 Tour: A Little French, A Little Cameroon and Another Remarkable Brookdale Visit

Brookdale Westlake Village

Time for a diversion from daily 60/20 Tour activities. I’m headed up to Toronto for the Global Ageing Conference and to pick up Francis from Cameroon. He will certainly provide an added twist to the tour, and several of the sites we are visiting will be highlighting his amazing work in Cameroon. Today we’re headed to Overland, Ohio – our 5th Brookdale stop on the tour. They all have been memorable in their own way – vacuum cleaner aficionados, divas, happy dogs, and soulful residents have marked the visits, so the bar is set high for Overland Park. But Liz Kozlowski,  rec therapist at Brookdale Westlake Village, delivers. Two residents, Anne and Anneliese, are ready to go cruising and crooning.  These trips all take on a life of their own, and this one goes international. Anne was a French student and teacher for many, many years and Anneliese is from Germany.

Anne lights up the car!  Her French exuberance carries the day, whether it’s talking, singing, smiling or just enjoying the houses as we drive by.  I love her singing in French, you sense her spirit and soul flowing around the van. It’s a never-ending refrain as I write my experiences: the joy that’s palpable for people living with dementia when they’re in a carefree, relaxed environment. And Liz is awesome. She knows the spirit of both ladies and helps with the questions. She really gets it!  Every Brookdale site has had such talented caregivers.

When we get back from cruising, I introduce Anne to Francis, and they strike up a conversation in French. It’s fun to see. What are the odds of that conversation taking place? Francis even leads an activity within the community, showing the residents Cameroon off our system with the help of Google Earth. No such thing as a free ride if you’re on the 60/20 tour…we’ll put Francis to work!

On to a weekend of driving, next stop: The Long Island Veterans Home!

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