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Wedding Bells at The Ambassador of Scarsdale: Love in the Age of Alzheimer's

Connection and purpose are pursuits that transcend culture, age, and health. They’re also the lifeblood of The Ambassador of Scarsdale’s vibrant Assisted Living and Memory Care communities.

Wedding Bells at The Ambassador of Scarsdale: Love in the Age of Alzheimer's
Scarsdale, NY, July 14, 2016 --( In paving new pathways for residents and their loved ones to engage with each other and their surroundings, The Ambassador is redefining what it means to live with and think about Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. "We strive to empower our residents to live full lives in their ‘new normal,’ and to help our families navigate and celebrate the everyday and monumental happenings in this reality," said Jean Dunphy, General Manager of The Ambassador of Scarsdale.

So, when Patricia Reilly’s granddaughter, Jessie Appel and her fiancé, Mack Kronberg, expressed Jessie’s childhood wish of holding her wedding at her grandmother’s home, The Ambassador of Scarsdale staff didn’t hesitate to help this dream come true. Since her grandmother’s relocation to The Ambassador’s Memory Care Community from her former home on Shelter Island, Jessie has realized that her stock in the house itself, which she’d visited every holiday until Mrs. Reilly’s move, was misplaced. "It’s not about the house," she says. "Grandma has been the constant, and that’s carried on."

"Jessie had pretty much given up on her dream to marry at her grandmother’s home," recalls Mack. "But then, shortly after we got engaged, we went to visit at The Ambassador, and as we passed the courtyard, this powerful image took hold of us standing there saying our vows amid the flowers and greenery and this strong community that has accepted Mrs. Reilly—and us—with open arms."

In attendance at the July 10th ceremony were the couple’s immediate family and close friends, as well as residents of The Ambassador’s Memory Care Community, and their loved ones, who have become an extension of Jessie’s family. Reveling in her roles as gracious host and proud grandmother, Mrs. Reilly delivered a brief yet poignant toast. "Today is the day that my granddaughter is getting married to the one she loves," she enthused. "I wish her happiness with love. It is an honor to be here on Jessica and Mack’s wedding day!"

This joy reverberated through the entire Ambassador community. "It was a wonderful feeling to help Mrs. Reilly be at her granddaughter’s wedding," says Sarah Rouke, the Memory Care Community Director. Given Mrs. Reilly’s flagging health and memory—the dementia-related drivers of her move to The Ambassador—her attendance wouldn’t have been possible had the ceremony occurred elsewhere, she adds.

After the main event, The Ambassador hosted an intimate reception, where the in-house chef rolled out a surprise wedding cake, and Mrs. Reilly presented the newlyweds with a homemade book of marital advice from the residents of the Memory Care Community.

"Seeing this wedding hosted in a space where everyone lives with cognitive impairment breaks the mold and the stigma that these folks are absent or gone," says Kerry Mills, founder of Engaging Alzheimer’s, and a dementia coach for The Ambassador’s Memory Care Community. "Jessie and Mack’s desire to have Mrs. Reilly present emphasizes that the deep connection people share surpasses memory and verbal communication."

To the newlyweds, this imperfect authenticity transcends any scripted love story. "This has been so much better than the fairytale wedding I imagined as a little girl," says Jessie. "This is our reality, and we’re incredibly happy."

Photo credit JDZ Photography
Pictured left to right: Karina Apuzzo (Ambassador Memory Program Activity Director), Sarah Rouke (Ambassador Memory Program Director), Mack Kronberg, Patricia Reilly, Jessie Appel, and Kerry Mills (Founder of Engaging Alzheimer's)
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Ambassador of Scarsdale
Jean Dunphy
Delaney Rebernik story credit
JDZ Photography photo credit

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