Bernice Lagattuta cuts a most fashionable figure as she bustles around Inspīr. Clad in her signature vintage Cartier glasses, fabulous accessories—many of which she inherited from her mother—and always, always impeccably dressed, Bernice is impossible to miss. And we would never want to miss her—she’s as fantastic inside as she is out.
Her story is one of unconditional love, sacrifice, and triumph, and like everyone at Inspīr, she is utterly unique. She moved into Inspīr with her 63-year-old son, Frank. Frank has faced health challenges since childhood. Bernice spent decades traveling back and forth from their family home in Palmer Township, PA, to the doctors and specialists who treated him at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Mother and son are exceptionally close and, to this day, remain inseparable! So, when it came time for Bernice, now 88, to consider senior living options, there was no question that her ultimate choice would be a place Frank also could call home.
Since May, Bernice and Frank have been happily living in a two-bedroom apartment on Inspīr’s Sol level.
The two enjoy everything Inspīr has to offer, from the amenities to the caring staff—and lest we forget to mention their love of excursions! Indeed, whether it’s being driven across town (in the house car service) to pick up her glasses from the repair shop or even attending an upcoming Broadway show, Inspīr always makes sure they are taken care of.
We were able to sit down with Bernice recently—in between her busy schedule—and hear her story.
What were your first impressions of Inspīr when you came on the tour?
It was amazing… I felt like I was walking into a five-star hotel. Everyone was genuine, welcoming, and warm throughout the entire tour. The environment made me feel incredible—from the decorations to the lobby, dining room, and SkyPark, everything blew me away. I was able to tell that Inspīr was a level up from all other retirement communities, and I just knew in my heart that I would have nothing to worry about here.
So, it was a simple decision to move to Inspīr, despite the complicated circumstances?
Yes. I knew that Inspīr was meant for my son and me. I explained to the staff my situation and why it was imperative that I live with Frank. The Inspīr team was incredibly understanding and caring, immediately welcoming us with open arms and addressing every single one of my concerns. More icing on the cake: the building is so close, mere blocks, to Frank’s doctors!
You have been here for a few months now. How are you enjoying your time?
I absolutely love it. The caregivers, food, music, and more—all of it has changed my world—and Frank’s. We like to take advantage of everything they have to offer here. The activities and experiences are never-ending! We just went to the Edge at Hudson Yards, where the view was amazing, and later this week, we are going to see 1776 on Broadway. I haven’t been to the theatre since COVID-19 started, and Inspīr made my dream to go again come true.
We hear you are a big fan of Chef Josh!
Yes, I regularly attend his cooking classes, where I recently learned about the various origins and techniques used in chocolate making from around the world! The food is wonderful here. The staff gets to know you and your preferences, and sometimes I don’t even need to order my food. They just bring it right over without me having to say a word. Breakfast is one of my favorite times to connect with my friends since we all sit at the same table and pull up as many chairs as we can fit. I am always taken aback by the interesting conversations I have with the residents here, and it is exciting making new friends. This is something I couldn’t have done if I were still living at home.
We hear you have a fantastic connection with one of the residents, Millard Altman.
Yes, I recently had a lovely conversation with Millard, who was with the Metropolitan Opera for over 40 years in various roles, including Assistant Conductor, Coach, and Prompter. We bonded immediately! It was quite the coincidence. As a young adult, my uncle connected me to Giovanni Martinelli, an Italian operatic tenor from the 1920s, nicknamed the golden voice of the Metropolitan Opera, who wanted to train me. Although I did not choose to pursue a career in singing, instead opting to start my own pharmacy, Millard informed me that Giovanni only offered to train the most promising students. This was something I was thrilled to hear after so many years! It has been so wonderful to re-explore my love for opera with a fellow resident.
Is being active your secret to a long, happy life?
Yes, I love to be busy and stay as active as I can. I love to go on walks with the walking club, where we go to Central Park or around the neighborhood. It is great to get fresh air and feel the energy of New York City. Inspīr truly takes care of the residents in every way. Everything is thought of, and they go out of their way to uplift the spirits of all the residents. There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for us, and it’s obvious.
Would you recommend Inspīr to other people?
Inspīr will light up your life. There will come a time when you need help, and you will certainly find it here. No matter what happens, there are people here who will solve anything that comes up. You don’t find that everywhere … they want to help, and they never say no. It’s the care that you can count on.
LEARN ABOUT THE LIFESTYLE AT INSPĪR
From the moment we’re born, new experiences are key to our growth as individuals. That’s why they’re intrinsic to life and the continued well-being of our residents at Inspīr Carnegie Hill. We bring fresh programs and perspectives from a variety of engagement partners to support our philosophy of caring for the whole self. Engage in therapeutic programs, educational workshops, music, film, entertainment, and more at Inspīr.