“I want to do what I love to do,” he says. “When I sing for them, I can tell I make them happy.” A story of Berkeley Seniors and Music.
A gift to share
Mr. Richard Frankel is dressed in a black suit and blue tie, looking sharp as he sings for his fellow participants at the Center for Elders’ Independence PACE center in Berkeley. The way he exhales slowly, releasing more air at the end of his musical notes while lingering on some notes, allows the music to caress his voice and hints at his lifetime of experience in singing. This is Mr. Frankel’s gift to his friends.
“I want to do what I love.”
Doing what he loves helps Mr. Frankel stay healthy. Through singing and the other social interactions he gets at the PACE center, older adults like him are able to make new friends, learn healthier habits, lower their risk of depression, and improve their quality of life because they are around people and can participate in activities.
Today, Mr. Frankel sits down for the cozy audience and sings a few of his favorite songs including, “The Impossible Dream,” which he says is a song that continues to inspire him. He gets a lot of joy out of singing and says he missed performing during the pandemic. “I want to do what I love to do,” he says. “When I sing for them, I can tell I make them happy.”
“We love being in the PACE program together.”
Richard Frankel and his partner Elaine learned of the PACE healthcare plan through their senior residence facility and joined CEI together almost two years ago. Frankel says he loves CEI. “We have no problems. We love being in the program together.” He also says that he was overjoyed when he learned he could perform for people at his center. It made him “feel at home again.”
A seasoned performer
Mr. Frankel started to sing when he was 12 years old and at 14, he moved to California with his family. He first moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Los Angeles, California, riding a train for 2,000 miles. He recalls hearing that his favorite singer Andy Williams was on the train.
Once he started singing, his mother became his manager and he made a record, went on auditions, and took vocal training. His memories revolve around the concerts he went to and the places where he performed, like Seattle’s Pike Place Market, a synagogue, and the Subterranean Room in Berkeley. In addition to performing at CEI’s Berkeley PACE Center, he has appeared at many events, nursing homes, and senior centers.
Connecting with people
Over the years, Mr. Frankel has been a messenger, dishwasher, usher at games, a prep cook, a stock worker, a janitor, and a call center salesperson. Of all of those jobs, he says he liked being a messenger best because he got to meet people and was able to take courses at night to learn about music. He likes CEI because of all the interactions he gets with other people his age and said he looks forward to more people coming back into the center now that everyone has their COVID shots.
Home care and physical therapy help keep him singing
Mr. Frankel likes the home care he gets with CEI because it helps a lot with chores he can’t do or has difficulty doing, like making the bed, mopping, and preparing meals.
“I like going to physical therapy for my knees,” he says, adding that doing physical therapy each time he comes into the center really helps keep his health on track. In the past, he loved to play basketball and mentored many youngsters in the sport. When asked if the Warriors are his favorite team, he jokes, “I don’t know, with the way they’re playing.”
Vaccinated and back to singing at the PACE Center
Now that Mr. Frankel and Elaine are vaccinated for COVID-19, they look forward to socializing again and Mr. Frankel is eager to make participants happy at Berkeley CEI with his mini-concerts.