“Got Confusion? Memory Loss. How Does that Feel?”

Alzheimer’s Advocate, Mal Allard, spends the afternoon with McLean caregivers, staff and families to talk about Dementia.

“Go with the flow” was the message of Mal Allard,R.N., Alzheimer's consultant, Alzheimer's advocate and founder of a company called Their Real World, to a group of over 20 caregivers, staff and families at The New McLean on June 18.

As Mal began the meeting with a non-sensical agenda, talk of cancer and diabetes, and news of a dead bird and mention of being in the wrong room, many audience members looked around in confusion. Then as Mal walked over to a table full of listeners and sat down, seemingly waiting for the speaker to begin, things got more awkward.

Once back at the podium, she asked, “Is anyone confused?” For those of us who had not left thinking we were in the wrong room, of course we were. “Well that’s how I imagine someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s feels on a regular basis.”

Explaining that folks with memory impairment may comprehend half of the words that are spoken, so they are always feeling confused. They may also feel like they are constantly being tested, especially when we ask them questions they don’t know the answer to, or unable to give the expected response.

She explained that our role as caregivers is to help re-route their confusion, even if it’s only for a moment. We need to consider their immediate point in time and create a positive environment for them. A positive environment can be established in a matter of seconds, with mention of a loved one, or a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Creating this up-beat environment that may only last for a few seconds helps bring smile and positive emotions to those with dementia.

“Their care plan is us,” Mal concluded. “We need to jump on board with dementia like any other disease – unlike cancer or diabetes, there is no medical cure, or surgery that might help. Their care plan is us. Help them live a seemingly normal life.” 

Megan Gill, Director of McLean's The Atwater Receives Two Certifications

 Megan Gill of McLean joins the National Council of Certified Dementia  Practitioners (NCCDP) and International Council of Certified Dementia  Practitioners (ICCDP) as a CDP® Certified Dementia Practitioner®.

 Megan Gill, Director of McLean’s The Atwater memory care assisted living  community, recently completed extensive training and joined the National  Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) and International Council  of Certified Dementia Practitioners (ICCDP) as a CDP® Certified Dementia  Practitioner®.

 Created to promote standards of excellence in dementia education, the goal of the  NCCDP/ICCDP is to develop and encourage comprehensive standards of  excellence in direct-care skills, education and sensitivity in the area of dementia  care for professionals and other caregivers who provide services to clients with  dementia.

“As Dementia care professionals, the more knowledge we have on the diseases, the better we can support those in our care,” says Gill. “This education enables me to share the skills and training I received with our residents and care partners.”

In addition to being the Director of McLean Village and Assisted Living communities, Megan facilitates a support group (PDF) sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter, for caregivers of those with dementia on the first Monday of every month at 1:30 p.m. Call (860) 658-3941 for more information.             

Simsbury High School Music Honor Society shares their gift of music at McLean as part of The Harmony Bridge Project

Members of the Simsbury High School music program had toes tapping and hands clapping as they performed well-known folk tunes for McLean residents on June 12 in the fireside lobby.

Many of the performers are part of the Tri M Music Honor Society, a program of the National Association for Music Education. The group participates in The Harmony Bridge Project, an initiative started by Michael Levine, founder of the Dallas Brass, which encourages student musicians to play for the elderly in their local communities.

Activities Calendar for the Upcoming Week

McLean Auxiliary Awards Grants

McLean Auxiliary Awards $20,000 in Grants at

Annual Annual Meeting and Strawberry Festival

Directors  from the benefitting departments accept their Grant Awards

For more than 40 years, the McLean Auxiliary has supported McLean by providing volunteer services and grants that directly benefit McLean residents, staff and visitors.

On Monday, June 2, the McLean Auxiliary awarded $20,000 at their Annual Meeting and Strawberry Festival to benefit resident life and included music and horticultural activities, a Patient Special Needs Fund, specialized equipment for patient care, and a new server for residents in the newly-renovated dining room.

“The McLean Auxiliary is integral to our mission and success and their generous charitable contributions enhance quality of life and programs for residents every day of the year,” said David Bordonaro, McLean President. “

The McLean Auxiliary also awards an annual scholarship to an employee, or a child of an employee who will be attending college in the fall to pursue a career in a health care related field.  Debbie Davis, RN, an evening supervisor at McLean, (pictured below) accepted the $1,500 scholarship from Jane Stevenson, McLean Auxiliary Board Member and Scholarship Chairman.

The 2008 scholarship recipient, James Cody of North Granby, returned to express his continued gratitude and shared that he has now just graduated from American International College with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

The McLean Auxiliary raised the majority of funds through their Gift Shop, conveniently located in the Living Room of the Health Center.  All purchases are tax-free and there is something for everyone – from cards to jewelry, scarfs, seasonal gifts, light snacks and other items of comfort and beauty. 

For more information on the McLean Auxiliary, visit their website at

Activities Calendar for the Upcoming Week


5th Grade Students from Tootin’ Hills School form lasting Friendships

with McLean Residents

 Collaboration between Tootin’ Hills Elementary School and McLean, started back in in 2007 when 5th grade teacher, Karen Barton, felt strongly that education was not just about reading, writing and math. She wanted to create a service-learning experience that encourages social growth and ethical behavior for her students.

“Children at this age need to start to “give back,” participate in their community and extend themselves beyond their own worlds. The “Grand-Friends” program helps them understand the value of people of all ages” says 5th grade teacher, Karen Barton, who organizes the program between Tootin’ Hills School and McLean each year. 

Students from the fifth grade classes visit McLean three times a year, partnering with residents to engage in different activities each time – from interviewing their designated grand-friend and writing a corresponding essay, to collaboratively writing poetry. Students celebrate the friendships they’ve built during the year by performing their spring choral concert for the McLean community in the central lobby during their third visit.

This year, McLean residents anticipated their Tootin’ Hills friends and many waited in the lobby close to an hour ahead of the scheduled concert time – as they were looking forward to not only the choral concert but seeing their young friends.

The Village at McLean celebrates their annual Pancake Breakfast

Also known as “Dorothy’s Breakfast,” volunteers serve up breakfast with a smile to over 65 hungry members

of the McLean Community  

The sizzle of griddles marked the start of the Annual Pancake Breakfast held in the Burkholder Community Center this past Thursday morning. Dorothy Ianzito, with the help of her good friend Bud Petersen, has been organizing this delicious event for McLean Village residents since 2007.

“I enjoy putting this breakfast together every year for our community, but I could not do it without the help of my good friend, Bud, and of course all of the wonderful volunteers,” said Dorothy Ianzito.

This year, with the help of 12 volunteers and wonderful kitchen staff at The Village, they served over 65 hungry patrons a traditional menu of pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit cup, orange juice, coffee and tea. In addition to cooking and serving, Dorothy’s volunteers helped with setting long family-style tables, valet parking, greeting residents as they walked in, and of course, cleaning up. 

As the enticing aroma wafted through the Burkholder Community Center, camaraderie and community were the order of the day as neighbors sat together enjoying a delicious pancake breakfast, catching up and enjoying each other’s company after a long, cold winter.

 Photo: “Dorothy’s Breakfast” organizer, Dorothy Ianzito, a resident of  The Village at McLean for 16 years, enjoys the community of people and  the supportive environment reflected by the annual morning get-  together. When asked how long it takes to organize this popular event  each year, she will tell you that she begins organizing the next pancake  breakfast almost as soon the last one ends and works diligently with all  of  her volunteers and McLean staff to make sure the event runs smoothly  year after year.  






 Photo below: Henry (Hank) and Barbara Smachetti, two of this year’s 12 volunteers serve up pancakes and bacon to over 65 residents and staff during McLean’s Annual Pancake Breakfast in the Burkholder Community Center