Tuesday, December 27, 2011


GILT-EDGED BY ASSOCIATION. One of the most effective ways to enhance an organization’s reputation is to establish connections with highly regarded institutions, causes, values, even words.

Eskaton’s public relations’ endeavors include the constant pursuit of golden or gilt-edged associations – those that resonate favorably with the general public as well as with the organization’s mission and targeted audiences. For example:

§   The Eskaton Kids Connection partners schoolchildren with residents in our communities. This association with local public schools demonstrates that Eskaton values education and social engagement throughout the aging process.

§   To share our appreciation for veterans, Eskaton produced West Sacramento’s first-ever Veterans Day Parade, which established a high-profile association between the small town’s military heroes and Eskaton.

§   Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime initiative “makes dreams come true” for our older adult residents; and vicariously associates Eskaton with hope, enthusiasm and purposeful longevity.

§   Longevity Rules, the 2010 book edited and published by Eskaton, features essays by 34 nationally renowned experts on longevity. The project advanced Eskaton’s national stature as a credible, impartial resource for policy shapers, academicians, healthcare professionals … and consumers.

The influence cultivated through the associative process continues to be one of the most dependable tools in the public relations professional’s toolbox.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


ALZHEIMER’S THERAPY NOT FOR DUMMIES. Pet therapy. Yes. Music therapy. Sounds good. Humor therapy. Good for a laugh and healthy. But ventriloquism therapy? Hmmm? AARP Bulletin reports that several care providers are using ventriloquism to connect with and engage Alzheimer’s patients.

“Some respond by touching or kissing the characters while delighting in the ‘second childhood,’” says one of the ventriloquists on behalf of her dummy friends.

Time for a reality check: Yes, it is advised to meet Alzheimer’s patients in their own reality, whether it be talking to dolls or believing one to be their own child. That said, therapy should not be patronizing, nor should it simply encourage living in the past. Can Ed Sullivan reruns with Topo Gigio be far behind!?

Alzheimer’s patients are adults who deserve to be treated with dignity, with adult children who yearn to experience what time they have left with their parent … in the present, as often as possible.

Alzheimer’s patients do benefit from many creative therapies. Of the most empathic, the response should be for individuals and families to appreciate each new day, to anticipate the future, and to respect their wonderful memories; and not simply relive their past. This is the challenge and reward each day with Eskaton's "Dawn of a New Day" Memory Care Centers

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


ESKATON EMBRACES GENERATIVITY. Eskaton embraces the philosophy of generativity -- one generation helping the next -- by practicing comprehensive resource conservation. Energy and water use efficiencies, solar power, recycling, ridesharing and biodegradable cleaning products are commonplace. Eskaton’s promotion of “green living” extends to our Livable Design by Eskaton guidelines for builders as well.

Another, growing commitment to sustainable development is the proliferation of urban gardens in Eskaton communities. Residents in independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, affordable apartments, even memory care enthusiastically tend to the seasonal vegetables. The bounties are then shared amongst residents, staff and neighbors.
Learn more about the Eskaton Ecology Initiaitive.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


CAREFUL NOT TO BE A “SLAVE” TO RESEARCH. As useful as attitudinal surveys can be, there is a risk to becoming a “slave” to public opinion research. Results from tracking politics, marketing or issues, oblige interested parties to make judgment calls, especially when the findings contradict a planned course of action. The choices then are to: 1) change direction to follow the results, or 2) stay the course and commit to adjusting public opinion to follow what is believed to be a better path.

More often than not, and usually with some angst, courses are changed. This option, though, is more suspect and complicated when survey responses are based on speculation about the future.

A perfect example, related to “aging,” is the proliferation of surveys indicating most all Baby Boomers want to age in their own homes, not in “retirement” or skilled nursing communities. At Eskaton our anecdotal research among residents contradicts this attitude and has prompted us to plan to quantify these findings by surveying our full population of 3,000.

Of our sampling of residents, whose average age is 83, none planned to live in our communities when they were healthy 65-year-olds (which is significant because most Baby Boomer surveys measure opinions of people 65 and younger). Conversely, now that they’ve experienced “community living,” the most common response is “I wish I would have done this sooner.”

To further marginalize the value of many attitudinal surveys, ask who can say with certainty what they will want or need 20 years into their future. In fact, many of us think differently today than yesterday. It is human nature to reprocess as we gain more information and adjust to new circumstances.

Eskaton accepts that most people will always prefer to age in their own homes; and we now provide an array of home support services and even offer “livable design” counsel to homebuilders. But, at the same time, we continue to prepare our communities for the 5-10 percent (of the 78 million individuals) in the next generation of older adults who, as history repeats, will eventually want or need the health and social benefits of our community living options.

As Mark Twain infamously quipped, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Not that we’re calling anyone liars, but we’re not acknowledging anyone’s fortunetelling credentials either. We’re just keeping our head in the game so  as you round the bases and head home, we’ll be ready.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A REAL IDEALIST.  U.S. copyright law protects original works of authorship. This excludes, as the government website (randomly) makes note: band names and Elvis sightings, as well as methods of doing something … and ideas. In the case of the latter, the idea, the intent of this qualification was dramatically clarified by the Mark Zuckerberg character in “Social Network,” who scornfully replied to the Winklevoss brothers’ claim that Facebook was their idea: “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”

The pretext is that ideas are a dime-a-dozen. But that it takes ingenuity, perseverance and hard work to bring words to life, which is why so many enthusiastically proposed “great ideas” never leave the launch pad. As management expert Peter Drucker famously warned, “Every great idea eventually deteriorates into work.”

Conference presenters at several recent aging services gatherings spoke of age-friendly cities of the future; life-changing new assistive technologies; breath-taking robotics; and other responses to positively influence the longevity revolution. For sure, to transform anything, let alone something as significant as our aging experience, requires such vision. But it also requires commitment. The true visionaries throughout history – Gutenberg, Edison, Jobs, Zuckerberg, etc. – were also realists and painstakingly turned their visions and ideas into action.

To succeed as a creative thinker, one cannot be discouraged by the immense challenge of birthing ideas … or distracted by the false praise heaped upon idea posers. After it’s all said and done, “You are what you do, not what you say.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


HUMOR THERAPY IS A (GOOD) JOKE. George Burns famously deadpanned, “When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”  And Henny Youngman joked, “I’m so old that when I order a three-minute egg, they make me pay up front.” Self-deprecation is funny … and healthy, too.

The most recent validation of laughter being the best medicine comes from the University of South Wales in Australia. In 36 Australian residential care communities, therapists with comedy and improvisation training shared 12 weeks of playful interactions with residents. The results were a 20 percent reduction in agitated behavior among residents with dementia. The humor therapy helped reduce “physical and verbal aggression, wandering, screaming, and repetitive behaviors and questions,” according to the research team. And, researchers note, the happiness and positive behavior remained lower through the 26-week follow up.

So smile when someone tells you, “You’re so old your blood type was discontinued.” You may just get the last laugh.

Monday, November 14, 2011


ESKATON REIGNS ON VETERANS PARADE. Emotions registered off-the-scale at West Sacramento’s Veterans Day Parade, the first in recent history. Several thousand residents lined the small town’s streets and attended the official ceremony afterward to honor local heroes. Veterans from all eras of combat and all branches of the military participated. But it was perhaps most poignant for the Vietnam veterans, who experienced their first such recognition. “‘My Parade’ was a very soothing moment in my life,” one Vietnam vet explained.

Eskaton presented the parade as a public service, part of its Veterans Appreciation Initiative, to honor all war veterans, including the hundreds who reside in its communities throughout Northern California and particularly the several dozen at Eskaton Wilson Manor in West Sacramento.

Though Eskaton’s role as Parade sponsor was intentionally low-profile, the organization’s commitment of time and resources was more than compensated by recognition from attending government officials, voluminous coverage by local news media, and most importantly by the appreciation of proud veterans and their grateful families and neighbors.  Watch news report.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


ESKATON APPRECIATES VETERANS. This Friday, November 11, Eskaton goes the extra mile, literally, to show appreciation to our country’s veterans, including the more than 300 who live in Eskaton communities throughout Northern California. Dozens of military veterans, marching bands, scout troops, cheer squads, antique autos and vintage military vehicles will travel through West Sacramento as a salute to veterans in the city’s first official Veterans Day Parade.

More than a participant, Eskaton is presenting the entire event -- from start to finish; the permitting, production, promotion and the actual Parade and ceremonies afterwards. The brainchild of Debbie Reynolds, whose father served the country in Vietnam, began as a way to pay tribute to several dozen war veterans residing at Eskaton Wilson Manor, the West Sacramento affordable apartments with a special “veterans preference,” which she administers.

Interest and enthusiasm has exceeded expectations, and the Parade boasts more than 600 participants, including a crew responsible for a 60-foot-long 1966 Huey gunship helicopter. Several thousand people are anticipated to join this very deserving “salute to veterans” this Friday. And while Eskaton’s role in the Parade may be behind-the-scenes, it is an honor to be front-and-center in demonstrating our appreciation to veterans. Get Parade details at http://www.eskaton.org/.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


ESKATON EXPOSES THE TRUTH. Eskaton’s policy to always feature actual residents in promotional materials reflects our commitment to “truth-in-advertising” as well as our sense of pride in the people we serve. You probably won’t recognize our TV and print “stars” unless you happen upon them during a visit to one of our communities – where they have achieved minor celebrity status.

Granted, Eskaton residents may not all look as silver-haired, tanned, fit, perpetually cheery and conveniently diverse as the models in the stock photos that appear and reappear in many “active aging” promotions. That said, we’re fairly certain our prospective consumers do know that, unlike Santa Claus, these attractive folks cannot truthfully be everywhere at once.

So we’ll just continue to opt for sharing reality over imaginary in our places, programs, promotions and people. You may see a flaw every now and then, but then we can’t all be “perfect.”

Monday, October 24, 2011


ESKATON LAUNCHES ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORK. Nearly 100 Eskaton residents are wired into the organization’s new social networking site. The complimentary “eLiving” online platform allows these early adopters to connect with one another and with family members, as well as post profiles and photos, keep track of medications, and access the community’s dining and activity calendars.

The resident portal both responds to the social interests of Eskaton’s increasingly computer-savvy population and anticipates the inherent efficiencies that digital communication brings to older adult communities. The eLiving network is slated this coming year to connect all 2,700 residents of Eskaton’s 30 communities. Click to learn more: http://www.eskaton.org/eLiving.html.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


A “PUPPET MASTER” GETS EXPOSED. Something like 10,000 aging services professionals from across the globe are gathering in Washington, D.C. this week at LeadingAge’s annual conference. For about five minutes Monday morning, October 17, I, Stuart Greenbaum, will be the center of attention. The recipient of the international organization’s annual Public Trust Award.

This exposure, though much appreciated, is a bit conflicting. The very nature of public relations is to influence from behind the scenes -- in an egotistical sense, like the Wizard of Oz or a puppet master, anonymously pulling strings to create a new reality. The objective being to (subliminally) offer an attitude-adjusting, behavior changing experience. Drawing attention to the presenter is counterintuitive.

That said, it is personally rewarding and great for the public relations profession to be recognized for such contributions.

No doubt the pervasive misapprehensions about the aging process and specifically support services for older adults create an ongoing challenge for all public relations, advertising and marketing professionals. In fact providers probably apply as much time and resources to public education as to promoting competitive advantages.

To help advance public confidence LeadingAge directs a number of high-profile campaigns and recognizes the efforts of its members by sponsoring the annual Public Trust Award. On behalf of all public relations professions, it is enough just to be recognized. Now, pull the curtain closed. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


OH YEAH FOR OHYE! Minoru Ohye is one of those rare individuals who you either like or you haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet. His network of good friends includes dozens of fellow residents of Eskaton Wilson Manor, a West Sacramento affordable apartment community, and a hundred or so fellow veterans at the local VFW where he volunteers regularly.

The 85-year-old Ohye is also a former WWII POW, the result of which separated him from his only brother more than 60 years ago.

Call it Karma, but that historic injustice is about to be rectified.

Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime Initiative “found” his brother in Japan and then reunited the siblings by mail. Now with the support of more than a hundred generous donors, including California State Assembly Member Mariko Yamada, funds have been raised to send Ohye to Japan to reunite in person with his long-lost brother.

The intercontinental reunion is scheduled for later this year.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


NEW ESKATON “BUDDIES” CONNECT. Along with the new school year this September comes the much-anticipated launch of another Eskaton Kids Connection. Sixteen classrooms of elementary and secondary schoolchildren are being introduced to their new “buddies” in a dozen different Eskaton communities. In just its third year, this signature piece of Eskaton’s Intergenerational Initiative has quintupled in size – now boasting more than 500 inter-age friendships, with plans to continue growing as fast as its youthful participants.

While the structured part of the gatherings -- reading and writing exercises, arts and crafts, singing and lunching together -- fill most of the day, the real highlights come as the buddies get to know one-another, and figuratively and literally break down pre-conceived barriers.

This year’s older adult involvement is more inclusive than ever, with residents from Eskaton’s independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, affordable apartments, even memory care.

Random comments overheard:

While admiring Eskaton’s outside patio, one student offered “This is a very nice place, huh, I wish I could live here.” To which his friend, also a budding sales and marketing director, added, “This is the best day ever, I love it here.”

When asked by her older buddy about siblings, the younger buddy responded “Sometimes I pretend my dog is my brother.”

And most poignant of all, an Eskaton resident and former elementary school teacher, asked staff at the end of the visit “What are we going to do with the kids?” -- wanting reassurance that the children would be picked up safely.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


“MORE THAN ME” documents former SNL cast member Jim Breuer’s cross-country comedy tour, accompanied by his 84-year-old dad. Not surprisingly, film segments featuring Breuer’s stand-up routines and the travails of weeks of touring thousands of miles by bus produce plenty of hilarious moments. What is surprising -- because it so unexpected -- is how incredibly poignant and inspiring it is to witness Breuer use humor and compassion to care for his dad as his health deteriorates. Watch the film's trailer. And then you will want to order the DVD.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


HOW OLD WOULD YOU BE? Satchel Paige famously asked, maybe rhetorically, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Research suggests that most healthy adults would answer 10 to 15 years younger than their chronological age.

Coming at the question of optimal age from a different angle, consider this: Assume you are perfectly healthy and can reasonably expect to remain healthy for another 20 years, what would be your ideal age? Would you opt for the advantage of wisdom that comes with age, or the youthful opportunities to influence the unknown?

Please share your comments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


MORE THAN WE’LL EVER KNOW. There are things we know, things we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know. Our formal schooling, continuing education and professional development ably cover the first two things, assuming we apply ourselves. It’s the third type of things, those which we haven’t even given a thought, that through scientific research and happenstance have the most profound influence on expanding our knowledge base.

Paradoxically, our goal should always be to be open-minded enough to acknowledge how little we really know. It was from this humble perspective that the Roman rhetorician Seneca wrote, “There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know the things that are so plain to them.” Such as … how best to age well into the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


WHAT’S IN A NAME: ESKATON? What do a defunct vanity record label, a neighborhood of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a French rock band have in common?

Each shares the name “Eskaton,” the same as the aging services provider in Northern California (www.eskaton.org).

Liberally translated from ancient Greek, “Eskaton” means “dawn of a new day,” which aptly represents an organization with a vision to transform the aging experience.

As for the origin of the other uses, it might just be the alternate explanation -- that it is a cool sounding word.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


LeadingAge LIVING UP TO ITS NEW NAME. Members of the national aging services organization LeadingAge continue to demonstrate the power of community as they support one another in the wake in Hurricane Irene. Donations of staff, resources and other aid between organizations in at least 10 states along the East Coast helped coordinate responses to evacuations, resident transfers, community status hotlines and other challenges.

LeadingAge continues to document the numerous stories of social accountability amongst its community of nonprofit members; and serve as a national resource clearinghouse. (http://www.leadingage.org/hurricane.aspx)

The immediacy and selflessness of members' responses is a testament to the inspiration and leadership of LeadingAge (which recently rebranded itself from the less inspiring name, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


THE “LONGEVITY DIVIDEND.” You’ll be hearing more about this benefit of aging in the coming years. According to Dr. Robert N. Butler, the science of aging has the potential to produce social, health and economic benefits for individuals and society.

Besides the obvious individual benefits of living longer in better health, consider that people will remain in the workforce longer, personal income will increase, and age-related entitlement programs will face less pressure.

The extraordinary accomplishment of extending life expectancy offers more rewards than burdens if we embrace and “exploit” this inevitability.

Learn more, read Longevity Rules: How to Age Well Into the Future. Order online at www.amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“DAWN OF A NEW DAY.” Eskaton’s new Memory Care program advocates a comparatively unique principle and practice in its care of older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Focus on today and tomorrow, on making new memories. Even if they are fleeting. Residents are encouraged to be forward thinking – to appreciate the present and anticipate the future.

And all the wonderful past memories, their intrinsic value is embraced as well. They generate smiles and respect and empathy and, perhaps most importantly, are used by caregivers to help residents navigate their fogginess and frustrations. Live each new day to its fullest, with dignity and self-worth … carpe diem.

How appropriate that translated from Greek, the name “Eskaton” means “dawn of a new day.”

Learn more at www.eskaton.org.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“AGING” IS AN ACTIVE VERB, positive and all-inclusive process, and not a label to be placed old and frail adults. With aging, perception can literally become reality.

According to a Yale University research study, individuals who maintain a positive outlook about growing older live on average 7.5 years longer than those who do not – a bigger increase than associated with exercising or not smoking. At Eskaton, we say the “Everyone is aging. Some of us just have more experience.”          

Learn more at www.eskaton.org or www.aging.org.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


IS “SOCIAL MEDIA” FOR TOOLS? The term “social media,” which at its most relevant is simply shorthand for a new toolbox of digital forums and formats, is becoming an annoying cliché. For two reasons: 1) An army of self-described experts and consultants are hawking their services as if the application itself was more important than the content (like being so proud of your beautiful invitation for a party that no one attends); and 2) It is a pedestrian, generic term. In the nineties catchphrase was “social marketing,” which was really just a trendy name for public-interest campaigns or traditional public relations. “Social media” is not more than the sum of its parts, rather it a bunch of unique parts or tools that work for users with varying degrees of efficiency. Quality public relations, advertising and marketing produce results. Use of “social media” is for tools …

Thursday, August 4, 2011


DÉJÀ VU, AMNESIA, OR BOTH? Which would you choose: to experience the greatest moment of your life and then have the memory completely disappear; or have an extraordinary moment, one that you actually never experienced, implanted in your memory? Memory can be an extraordinarily complex process … and can collapse like a house of cards in the mind of Alzheimer’s sufferers. It could be described as déjà vu and amnesia happening at the same time. Refresh your memory.

image by Andrea Levy, reprinted from Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


FRIENDS FOR LIFE. It takes just minutes for the visiting first-graders from Twin Rivers USD to become comfortable with their new “buddies” who live in Eskaton’s assisted living lodges and care centers.

Eskaton’s Kids Connection is the centerpiece of the organization’s initiative to promote intergenerational living, learning and mutual respect. Each school year hundreds of local elementary schoolchildren partner up with their new friends – some 15 times their age – to read stories, celebrate holidays, work on art projects, Skype and simply enjoy one another’s company.

The accompanying pictures are worth a thousand words, but to experience the genuine caring first-hand is priceless.

Learn more about Eskaton's Kids Connection.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


DON’T CALL US “GEEZERS.” According to a national survey of 100 journalists who cover aging related issues, “older adults” is the preferred term to describe people in later life -- individuals otherwise known as senior citizens, seniors, the aging or aged, elderly, geezers, old-timers, over-the-hill, old farts.

Some of these terms are generational. “Seniors” is acceptable to most of the Silent Generation, less so to the Boomer Generation. But “aged” and some of the others are simply, sadly ageist. Older adult qualifies an individual’s age (as compared to a younger adult), rather than placing a label on him or her – especially one that infers a negative stereotype such as frailty or senility.

Aging is an all-inclusive process. Everyone is aging; some of us (older adults) just have more experience than others. Read Media Takes: On Aging to learn more. Order from Aging Services of California or the International Longevity Center.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


"THRILL OF A LIFETIME." The great thing about a “thrill of a lifetime”: It is ageless. The ultimate, life-enriching experience can be grandiose or deeply personal. Regardless, each thrill generates anticipation, excitement, satisfaction and great memories.

Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime initiative fulfills about two-dozen thrills a year for its residents. Harriet Antonides became a Girl Scout on her 100th birthday. April Smith went whitewater rafting. Mino Ohye was reunited with his brother in Japan from whom he was separated during WWII.

Find more Thrills and smiles at http://www.eskaton.org./


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


CAUSE MARKETING’S GOLDEN RULE. “Do for others as you would have them do for you.” The Golden Rule. Profoundly simple, yet as difficult to follow as the speed limit or a Charlie Kauffman film. The success of most all public-service campaigns and cause marketing endeavors comes down to how effectively they generate empathy. And not from those of like mind, but from the rest of us who don’t think we have a vested interest in the cure or solution or benefits.

About preventing criminal behavior, the ancient Greek philosopher Solon eloquently warned, “There can be no justice until those of us who are unaffected by crime become as indignant as those who are.”

Advice for public relations professionals, use the “science of artful communication” to make The Golden Rule relevant and contemporary.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


ESKATON IS A “BLUE ZONE.” Northern Californians could be closer than most to discovering the secret to longevity. “Blue Zone” is the term a National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner uses to describe a handful of aging-friendly locations around the world. These are places where inhabitants live longer, healthier … and happier.

One village of 2,500 in Sardinia, for example, has four centenarians – “a staggering number, given that the ratio of centenarians in the U.S. is roughly one per 5,000,” Buettner notes.

Impressed? Then consider this: Among its 3,500 residents Eskaton boasts at least three-dozen people 100-years of age and older, which makes the ratio of centenarians within Eskaton’s “Blue Zone” 50 times greater than in the general population.
Celebrate Eskaton’s 100+ at http://www.eskaton.org./