Tuesday, November 27, 2012


LONGEVITY RULES CELEBRATES 100. 100 posts in a year and a half. Not especially prolific, but hopefully quality over quantity applies.

Watch for the launch of Eskaton’s new consumer blog in early 2013.

And be sure to look up my new “Humble Sky” blog also set to launch in 2013.

Thank you very much for your following and your inspiration. -- Stuart Greenbaum

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


ASSISTED LIVING: FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE IS SECOND TO NONE. Visit an assisted living community and most likely your experience will at once inspire confidence and dispel some preconceptions. This said, it is important to enter the discovery process with an open frame of mind. Of course, timing is everything. Your physician and other healthcare providers, and family members and friends can encourage you to make the best choices about your living conditions, but you should be prepared to make the final call.
Plenty of useful information and resources are available by phone (866-ESKATON) and online (www.eskaton.org as well as dozens of government and nonprofit websites, and impartial referral sources). Eskaton is also at your assistance with its team of care advisors and its Home Support Network resource center. And, of course, the executive directors and sales counselors for each of Eskaton’sassisted living communities (not “facilities” or “institutions”) always appreciate the opportunity to welcome prospective residents for a visit.
Above all else, your visit, including conversations with current residents and staff, will make all the difference in choosing where and when assisted living is right for you. As a result of first-hand experience, all of the benefits listed here truly make sense.
Assisted living offers residents a respectful balance between private, personal space and the community’s social environment.
By comparison, the monthly rates for assisted living are similar to the aggregate expenses of owning a home. Plus, there’s no upkeep and surprise repair costs.
Assisted living is a healthy consideration, not a concession. A lifestyle choice to enhance personal well-being, independence, socialization and convenience is a good thing.
Professional caregiving strengthens (refocuses) the family dynamic. Residents become more comfortable living with health conditions and limitations when assisted by professionals rather than “imposing” on family and friends. Most importantly, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) is always personal, respectful, convenient and healthy.
Research proves that socialization is much healthier than isolation. Activities and entertainment choices seem to expand to fill the time allocated to them.
Restaurant-style dining features healthy, nutritious meals, often including locally-grown produce; with most meals offered throughout the day.
Residents keep better connected than ever with family and friends. Eskaton’s free Wi-Fi, custom eLiving network and “Keep Connected” online video support for new residents encourage regular communication.
Services enhance residents’ independence and minimize dependency on others. Residents enjoy the conveniences of hosted dining, scheduled transportation, regular housekeeping and reliable medication management, among the services.
Forget bingo; activity calendars are filled with wellness classes, computer workshops, arts and crafts, cultural events and entertainment, intergenerational activities and much more.
Eskaton offers a range of living options if you decide you need more -- or less -- support. Independent living with services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, Dawn of a New Day Memory Care, respite, home healthcare and adult day healthcare, among other choices, Eskaton’s comprehensive network is fully integrated to best support changing health needs.
During your visit to an Eskaton community, you may also notice -- or be sure to ask about -- the special initiatives that truly demonstrate and distinguish Eskaton’s commitment to transforming the aging experience.
Kids Connection partners residents with local elementary school students to read, write, laugh and enjoy one another’s company.
Thrill of a Lifetime makes dreams come true for residents. For example, among the nearly 100 Thrills already produced, one resident became a Girl Scout at 100, another received her first-ever bouquet of flowers, and several have been reunited with long-lost family members.
Urban gardens offer residents the opportunity to nurture and enjoy truly locally grown produce.
Veterans appreciation events and holiday celebrations honor Eskaton’s several hundred vets.
Centenarian celebrations highlight Eskaton’s proud claim to be the “Official Sponsor of Longevity.” More than three-dozen healthy centenarians living with Eskaton celebrate their 100+ birthdays each year.
YOU’RE WELCOME. Call 866-ESKATON (866-375-2866) or any Eskaton community directly to schedule a visit today (weekdays and weekends, too) to experience Eskaton.

Friday, November 16, 2012


SEASONS GREETINGS FROM ESKATON’S ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE. Always proud to show off its talent from within, Eskaton sponsored an organization-wide contest to contribute original artwork for its 2013 season’s greetings cards. The top four pieces of original artwork, selected from more than three dozen entries, will be showcased on this year’s “happy holidays and new year greetings” cards.
One of the favorite selections (below) features the finger prints of memory care residents at Eskaton Village Roseville. You can view a sampling of the other submissions on Eskaton’s Facebook page.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


“MORE THAN ME” FILM MOVES VIEWERS. Among the hundreds of comments received this past week by Pilotfish, the producers of the documentary “More Than Me,” which premiered on the Current TV cable network on November 10 and continues to rerun regularly, is an especially personal and poignant (unedited) note from an Iraq vet. The film stars Jim Breuer and his dad, who the former SNL cast member cares for during an extended cross-country comedy tour.
“i was truly moved by the movie and just wanted to say thank you so much. it really put alot of things into perspective with my relationship with my father. it felt like Jim was talking to me directly. my father and i have always had a close relationship but he made some points that really hit home. after 4 years in the infantry as a rifleman and being wounded in iraq in 2008 i pride myself in being a tough and somewhat callous at heart but this really cut right through that to the point that i immediately texted my father 1000 miles away that he has always been there for me and i promise to always be there for him. i owe him so much. thank you again. even if this movie changes only one person’s relationship, it is a total success. you guys did that for me tonight.”

Scroll to the November 6 "Longevity Rules" post for more details on the film. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


EMOTIONS ARE TRENDING NOWADAYS. The appeal of social media as an opportunity to share everything should come as no surprise considering a series of 1990s European studies led by Bernard Rime with the University of Louvain, which reported people share nearly 90 percent of all emotional experiences. The publication of this phenomenon was recently name-checked by social media expert rbb Public Relations to attempt to validate the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and other online networking options.
A particular value of social sharing appears to be that it is an efficient means to ensure emotional events are not forgotten, according to the researchers who explained, “By talking about an emotional event, people gradually construct a narrative and a collective memory.”
Whether good or bad, happy or sad, the attention to emotions is expanding.
IN TIME: A recent Time magazine article “The Pursuit of Happiness” (10-22-12) emotes, “The Gross National Happiness Index represents the most comprehensive effort yet to devise an alternative to GDP.” The report details how the tiny Buddhist kingdom of “Bhutan has begun to use GNH as a broader and more nuanced measure of national progress than gross domestic product.” Other governments around the world also are exploring the benefits of identifying, “operationalizing” and measuring the components of happiness, according to Time. Physical and mental health, governance, ecology and living standards are among the commonly referenced components of gross national happiness.
IN TEXT: Also, fresh off the presses, the new text Independent for Life features a sidebar on Stanford University professor Laura Carstensen’s research study, “The Influence of a Sense of Time on Human Development.” The amount of time remaining in an individual’s life motivates goals and desires, according to the socioeconomic selectivity theory referenced in the article. About the aging process, Carstensen notes, “When time horizons are expansive, people lean toward gathering new experiences ... When times horizons are short, people choose to spend time on pursuits that matter most to them, which tends to make them happy.”
Incidentally, the 1990s research on sharing showed that “The rate of social sharing increased with age,” noting further, “These findings are not easily reconciled with traditional stereotypes stressing the poverty of affective life in the elderly.”
IN TEST: Eskaton is testing the agelessness of happiness. Separate groups of memory care residents and first-graders will be sharing their creative, artistic interpretations of happiness through a series of guided workshops. Tilted In the Mind of the Beholder™, the resulting artwork will become an intergenerational exhibition created to demonstrate that basic human desires -- such as happiness, among others -- transcend age and life experiences.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012


BREUER DOCUMENTARY “MORE THAN ME” TO PREMIERE ON CURRENT TV NOV. 10. Comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jim Breuer’s feature documentary “More Than Me” will receive its worldwide television premiere on November 10, 2012 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on the Current TV cable network.

The film, co-produced by Pilotfish Productions and Lazy Eyes Productions, chronicles Breuer’s experiences as the primary caregiver of his 84-year-old father while on the road for a cross-country comedy tour. “I knew he needed to get out of the house … I knew this would give him so much life,” Breuer says in the film referring to his father.

Shot in 2008, “More Than Me” has since made the rounds on the festival circuit, including a screening at the inaugural ArcLight Documentary Film Festival in Hollywood in 2011 and a Best Documentary award at the United Film Festival-New York earlier this year. “It’s taken us four years to get to this point,” said director, William Philbin. “You stick with it because you believe your story needs to be told. And it’s great to have a partner in Current that shares our belief.” Philbin’s partner at Pilotfish and “More Than Me” producer, Zac Greenbaum, echoed the director’s sentiment. “‘More Than Me’ is our first feature film; the footage was shot shortly after we founded our company, so it’s extremely gratifying to finally expose it to a larger audience.”

The deal gives Current an exclusive 2-year license to broadcast the documentary to its 60 million U.S. households.

Until now, “More Than Me” has only been available for purchase on DVD through Breuer’s website.

Jason Connell, owner of United Films and “More Than Me” sales representative, orchestrated the deal after spending several months searching for the film’s TV home. “In the end, Current was the perfect fit. Their programming is always thought provoking and they appreciate the power of documentary film to educate and entertain at the same time.”

“Our goal is to provide our viewers with unique content that matters,” said Mike Bunnell, Current’s vice president of programming. “The subject matter of ‘More Than Me’ -- caring for aging family members -- is something we all can relate to. And it’s the very raw, funny, intimate way in which this story was captured that makes it special. It will definitely spark some conversation.”

Pilotfish’s experience documenting complex subject matter such as caregiving and aging extends beyond this documentary to include producing a series of award-winning TV advertising campaigns and promotional short films for Eskaton and Aging Services of California, among others.

Click to view the trailer to “More Than Me” or to follow the film on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


“EMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL.” “She was free to have her disease ... and not constantly fight her decline,” expressed the daughter of a woman with Alzheimer’s who had recently moved to a care community. The transformative experience was shared by the daughter in a recent Sacramento Bee article (“Fear, stigma make Alzheimer’s patients slow to seek help,” 10-13-12). The daughter also noted how refreshing it was when someone recognized the person still living inside the disease. “I learned to go into my mother’s world, because she wasn’t coming into mine. ... You have to recognize the childhood of the disease but not be condescending about it.”
Though the mother’s care provider is not named, the daughter’s sentiments do reinforce the fundamental goal of Eskaton’s approach to caring for individuals suffering the devilish manifestations of Alzheimer’s disease.
Webster’s defines empathy as “the ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts or feelings.” In Eskaton’s “Dawn of a New Day” Memory Care, an empathic approach distinguishes the commitment of its caregivers who:

§   Make personal connections with residents.

§   Engage residents in activities that promote self-expression and cognitive challenges.

§   Partner with families; and provide support and regular communication.

§   Respect the physical environment of individuals and the community.

“The success of Eskaton’s Dawn of a New Day program is based on establishing very personal connections between our residents and our care team,” explains Teri Tift, Eskaton’s director of quality and compliance. “This is why we place a great deal of significance on recruiting, training and retaining staff who inherently and intentionally embrace this empathic approach.”
Eskaton also engages memory care residents in very unique ways. The Kids Connection buddies residents with local elementary school children who make regular visits; ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s helps residents explore their creativity; and urban gardens provide individuals with a constant, growing sense of purpose.
Empathy in memory care is about discovery. Not finding what is lost, because that may never be found; but rather about seeking new ways to communicate, connect and not condescend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


THE “AGE OF LONGEVITY.” Historians give contextual reference to eras of civilization by defining centuries or periods of time as “ages.” Starting around the 16th century, these great ages include the “Age of Reason” (roughly 1600-1700), “Age of Enlightenment” (1700-1800), “Age of Political Revolution” (1800-1850) and “Age of Social Revolution (1850-1950 or beyond) and the “Information Age” (roughly the past half-century). The chronology takes into account cultural movements, social philosophies, historical events and major accomplishments.

The academics, historians and publishers (such as Smithsonian and Time, which compiled the series of texts from which this information was excerpted) apply these labels as a retroactive perspective. This makes sense; humans are much more adept at reflection than anticipation or for that matter conscious of what they are experiencing.

The “Age of Longevity,” though, this is a new great age that we can actually appreciate in the moment. We’re experiencing it right now, all of us. And undoubtedly it is the most significant accomplishment of our time, maybe ever.

“In fewer than one hundred years, human beings made greater gains in life expectancy than in the preceding fifty centuries,” Dr. Robert N. Butler explains in his seminal text The Longevity Revolution. "... since the beginning of the twentieth century in the industrialized world, there has been an unprecedented gain of more than thirty years of average life expectancy from birth to over seventy-five years of age.” In just a little more than a decade from now, the number of people in the United States ages 65 and older will nearly double.

Humankind’s triumph of longevity deserves to be an era for the ages, no pun intended. Much to our benefit, if we embrace this momentous, experiential period, we are more likely to value and even influence its impact rather than passively reflecting on how history changed us.

Edward L. Bernays (right), the founder of modern public relations who died in 1995 at the age of 103, embodied the ages of Information and Longevity.

Friday, October 19, 2012


NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION. And on a related note, shouldn’t classes to improve stability and mobility be called “gait enhancement” or “walking safety” or “movement improvement” -- anything rather than “fall prevention,” which sounds like an antidote for seasonal affective disorder.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


IT’S US, NOT THEM. Older adults are not a special-interest group. In fact, we all are aging; and we all should hope to become older adults. Though the advantages of embracing “aging” as an all-inclusive process that we all experience resonates with an ever-increasing segment of society, further enlightenment is required for a few professional sectors still lost in the dark ages.

WITHIN ACADEMIA AND MEDICINE. In academia and medicine, the approach that seems most reasonable is the one put forth by Dr. Robert N. Butler in his book The Longevity Revolution. “I favor an academic specialty of geriatrics rather than a practice specialty. ... All doctors should have a basic training and knowledge to care for older adults.” This addresses the practicality of growing old rather than the stereotypes, and does not perpetuate the misconception that aging is an illness.

WITHIN THE WORKFORCE. More than simply repurposing them as greeters and publicity hires, many businesses now recognize the value of recruiting and retaining older employees for their experience, mentorship and exemplary productivity. It’s a maturing trend, one that hopefully will be validated by a positive impact on the bottom line.

WITHIN NEWS MEDIA. Media outlets are heading in the right direction. Local “senior” tabloids are expanding content to include news, entertainment and healthy living sections to balance the plethora of medical supply, aging services and estate planning advertorials.

One local television station produces a series titled “Sensational Seniors.” In fact Eskaton residents have been profiled on multiple occasions -- an artist, a model ship builder, a marathoner and a MENSA member, among others. With Eskaton’s encouragement and the station’s best of intentions, the stories focus on what these sensational older adults are doing, not what they’ve done.

Also notable, The Sacramento Bee, which regularly covers issues related to the aging process (independent living, remote caregiving, assistive technologies) assigns one of its premier staff writers, Anita Creamer, to such stories. Better still, The Bee often features the pieces on the front page of the Sunday edition for readers of all ages to appreciate.

WITHIN ADVERTISING AND ENTERTAINMENT. Stereotypes in advertising, marketing and entertainment are fading as well. These industries are more responsive than most to follow the dollar. It is becoming increasing clear that older adults, and particularly the 78 million Boomers, buy as much or more stuff than any age group, and have as much or more time to watch TV and see films.

WITHIN POLITICS. The California State Assembly has a standing committee, Aging & Long-term Care. In the State Senate, Aging & Long-term Care is a Health subcommittee. Neither body is particularly aggressive with attempting to expand in scope or authority. And certainly their subordinated influence hardly reflects the vast real-world impact their designations suggest.

Sooner rather than later the Legislature needs to acknowledge the broader context of “aging” concerns and either upgrade the stature of these committees or, perhaps more appropriately, intentionally integrate their agendas into those of the multiple other committees with influence over these issues.

WITHIN PUBLIC OPINION POLLING. For starters, it would good to scrutinize the intentions and survey instruments for public attitude surveys about aging. More emphasis needs to be placed on the interpretation and eventual application of the findings. Too often the wrong questions are asked and wrong people surveyed; and then the answers become the basis for bad decisions and flawed initiatives.

Polls should be our servants, not our masters. For example, it does not make sense to ask healthy middle-aged adults whether they desire to live in an older adult community or age-in-place. Better to ask them when their circumstances -- age, health, access to caregivers, etc. -- are more applicable. Or, to really hammer this point home, ask us, the individuals currently residing in older adult communities whether they aspired to this lifestyle when they were younger and healthy. And, besides, as any ambitious public relations professional up to the challenge will encourage: Public opinion is malleable and can be influenced by campaigns based on goals that represent the public interest.

WITHIN CONFERENCES. The laggards in the us-not-them movement, ironically, are the very organizations and conference planners who represent older adults. Workshop presenters and panels of authorities routinely offer their keen insights on what older adults need today and will want in the future. Yet, with one quick glance around the room -- at attendees and presenters -- it becomes painfully evident that the subjects of these insights are not represented. Yet they are accessible and certainly not lacking of opinions ... and no doubt would agree that information is best when it comes “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

WITHIN OURSELVES. Call it indifference, condescension, denial or any other aspect of ageism, but characterizing older adults as “them” is at very least counterintuitive.  As The Beatles so profoundly suggested, “We are you and you are we and we are all together.”  This spirit of inclusivity is something for everyone who is aging -- for us -- to embrace in anticipation rather than hindsight.

Monday, October 15, 2012


KEEP CONNECTED ... WITH ESKATON. Now Eskaton is making it easier than ever for our residents to stay in touch with family and friends -- anytime, from anywhere. Our private “Keep Connected” online video service is free to all new residents and even includes complimentary setup and support for one family member or friend.
The program is being piloted at Eskaton Village Roseville, a multiservice community with an assisted living and memory care lodge, and independent living cottages. 
Specifically, Eskaton offers each new resident and one designated family member or friend our “Keep Connected” package, which includes complimentary equipment and tech support as needed for online video communication using Eskaton’s eLiving or other similar options. Our community offers free Wi-Fi, so all that’s needed is a broadband connection for participating family members and friends.

Friday, October 12, 2012


EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY. It’s a new school year and that means Eskaton Kids Connection students are buddying up with residents in Eskaton’s communities throughout Northern California. More than 500 pairings in 17 locations -- including older adults in independent living, affordable apartments, assisted living, care centers and memory care.

"The children are so excited,” explains teacher
Bobbi Donovan, one of the program’s co-founders. "Yesterday we rehearsed our songs and packed our buddy bags with art supplies and crafty presents in anticipation of meeting our new friends at ’Eksaton.’ It was like the day before Christmas for the kids.”

Remarkably, the events of the day, the initial connections of the intergenerational pairs, always exceed the hype.

A magnetic field seems to draw the buddies together in the community’s common living room. Within moments of being introduced, the kids are reading to their older adult buddies, presenting them with art projects, answering questions and telling stories.

As the passel of 30 first graders respectfully maneuver around, over and under wheelchairs and walkers, the older adults (in their 80s, 90s and 100s) clearly appreciate the youngsters’ familiarity and close proximity. The closer the kids snuggle, the easier it is to hear and see the joy they bring to the community today.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


PERFECT! TWICE AS NICE. Rarely do you “capture lightning in a bottle.” But, twice in one year, that’s quite an accomplishment.

2012 is a banner year for Eskaton’s survey results. Eskaton Village Carmichael Care Center earned a “zero-deficiency” perfect score in its just concluded State Licensing Survey by the California Department of Public Health. And Eskaton’s Adult Day Healthcare program also earned a perfect score on its Medi-Cal Certification Renewal.

“Eskaton’s expectation is always zero-deficiencies,” according to COO Betsy Donovan, “still the rarity of this occurring with the incredibly complex process makes such a score quite an accomplishment.”

For skilled nursing, Title 22 regulations govern the operation of all facilities. The stringent annual surveys focus on administration, care policies, quality assurance and environmental status.

For adult day healthcare -- referred to as Community Based Adult Services -- the state’s Certification Renewal Survey determines compliance with Medi-Cal certification requirements and is conducted at minimum once every two years by the California Department of Aging.

The extensive ADHC survey includes chart reviews for compliance with requirements of care and documentation; interviews with program participants and staff; review of required therapy; review of dietary services; and review of psychologist and pharmacist hours and documentation. Billing records are compared to chart records for accuracy. Staffing patterns, personnel records and licenses; and training requirements are checked. Transportation records and facility safety are scrutinized as well. In other words, the survey is very thorough. “They can check hundreds of things in one chart alone,” explains program director Jill Yungling.

“We do not spend a lot of time preparing for surveys,” Yungling noted. “The culture at the center is to do it right the first time. The staff does a really nice job of balancing their time with the participants and also getting the huge amount of documentation done accurately. It takes everyone doing their part to achieve this great outcome.”

Eskaton also earned a perfect score for the 2010 survey of Eskaton Care Center Fair Oaks. The surveyor at that time said, according to administrator Stephen Fife, that the “Golden Survey” was the first deficiency free survey she had issued in her nine years in the position.

By no means to minimize Eskaton’s accomplishment, but Major League Baseball recorded three perfect games during the 2012 season. This trilogy brings the total number of such extraordinary feats to just 23 in the 132 history of baseball.

In baseball, there are 27 opportunities (batters and outs to be recorded) per game for something to go awry and muck with perfection. In surveys for skilled nursing and adult day healthcare, there are several hundred challenges to perfection. Clearly, both accomplishments deserve to be celebrated.

Friday, October 5, 2012


ON EXPECTATIONS AND SCHADENFREUDE. Not as a rule, but occasionally it’s better to lower your expectations. This visual reminder from today’s morning commute happens every few years when a big rig gets stuck under the 16th street underpass on the way out of downtown Sacramento. Happy Friday to the rest of us ...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


“REUNITED AND IT THRILLS SO GOOD.” Getting the family together for the holidays will have special significance this season for Millie Watts. On September 12, the Eskaton Roseville Manor resident was surprised by a secretly orchestrated reunion with her younger sister, Patty Geayson, from whom she has been separated for more than 30 years.
Nearly two years in the making, the staff of Eskaton’s affordable apartment community used Google searches, genealogy websites and old-fashioned letter writing to eventually track down Patty in Merced, California. With little coaxing required, the surprise reunion was scheduled and tickets purchased for Patty’s train and bus rides to Roseville. For both sisters it would become, literally, a Thrill of a Lifetime -- the theme of Eskaton’s initiative to help make dreams come true for its residents.
“We lost touch after our mom died,” Patty explained, adding. “But I thought about her all the time.” The emotional reunion was celebrated with dozens of Millie’s neighbors, her surrogate family of “brothers and sisters” at Eskaton.
Beyond the remarkable Thanksgiving treat for Millie, 74, and Patty, 65, the impending family gathering also will reunite the sisters’ with two older brothers, Alfonso, 88, and Robert 87. Thus extending the Thrill to epic proportions, since the two brothers, living in Merced and Redding, respectively, had lost touch as well. For the first time in three decades, the reunited siblings (the four of 11 children still living) will be together as family. “I could not be any happier,” Millie declares. “Mom would be so thrilled.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


ROMANCE ON THE RIVER: “We feel like we’re on our honeymoon,” enthused the loving couple who vow to “cherish each moment” they have together.
For Joyce, a 93-year-old Eskaton care center resident, and Lee, 98, her boyfriend of seven years, the romantic dinner and cruise on the Sacramento River was the perfect date, a longtime dream-come-true.
To orchestrate this most recent Thrill of a Lifetime, Eskaton care center staff contacted Hornblower Cruises & Events, which generously donated the dinner cruise package on the historic Delta King paddle wheeler. The Thrill program chipped in for a limousine escort for the couple, whose thrilling date concluded with ice cream dessert in Old Sacramento.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


THREE WORDS TO LIVE BY. Finally, for your scrutiny, here is the essential consumer appeal for aging-services providers. Actually, two related appeals. The first lends itself to independent, active aging communities. And the latter to assisted living and skilled nursing. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, these three words seem to all inclusively reflect the three most fundamental human desires -- which aging-services providers can confidently fulfill.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


REALLY? EVERYONE? Kids have a knack of launching into pleas for why they have to have or do something with “Everyone is ...” Of course, parents quickly become immune to such hyperbole and incredulously respond, “Really? Everyone?”
Yet, as our kids are happy to remind us, we can be hypocrites -- at least those of us in the marketing world, who too often misrepresent universal characterizations. Based on most of the websites, ads and marketing literature for “active,” older adult communities, a real person might ask:
Does everyone there ride bikes?
Drive convertibles?
Surf and kayak and eat ice cream cones?
Enjoy the contemporary stylings of Hootie and the Blowfish and Celine Dion?
Never use a wheelchair, walker or even cane? Are they banished if they do?
Have a full head of silvery gray hair? And shop at Tommy Bahama and Chico’s?
Always hang out in groups with equal representation of ethnicities?

Wear brand new, generic ball caps?
Have strong backs for grandchildren who love to be swung around by their arms, on the beach?
BEWARE MARKETERS. One of these days your stock photo sources might run dry or increase their prices. Or you might forget to Photoshop that walker in the background of the bistro photo or those pills on the dining room table beside the Cobb salad or your favorite model’s wild nose hair.
And then what would your consumers think?
Maybe ... that everyone is real in your community. That, “This is where I will be most comfortable, with real people who will embrace my imperfections.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


THINK WORDLY. SERVE LOCALLY. A quick way to burn through your highlighting pen is to download and peruse the World Economic Forum’s remarkable compilation of essays, Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise?
The report’s “Introduction” makes a compelling case for giving priority to aging issues, and for absorbing the wealth of knowledge bound within. “In an historical context, population ageing is one of the most remarkable human success stories of any era, reflecting contributions of public health, medicine, education and economic development. But capturing and unlocking the full benefits of that success require that we adapt our perspectives and reform our institutions. The good news is that there is a wide range of behavioural changes and public policy responses to population ageing that would simultaneously avoid a significant dampening of economic growth and enhance the quality of life for people reaching older ages today and for generations to come.”
Eskaton’s approach to “think worldly, serve locally” has generated several contributions to the international dialogue on aging. The organization’s identity as a progressive aging-services provider is well-known throughout its service areas in Northern California, and even across the United States. The extent to which the brand reputation reaches around the world is both inspiring and humbling, as well.
This spring a 12-person delegation of South Korea government officials toured The Parkview, the Eskaton-managed assisted living and memory care community in Pleasanton, California. The research and advisory team was led by Lee Moo-Seung, president of the Social Welfare Foundation or, as his business card stated, “Director, Old Man’s Specialty Recuperation Facility.”
Australia frequently sends contingents to California to tour Eskaton’s communities and the National Demonstration Home in Roseville, and to meet with various executives and practitioners. The next walkabout is slated for next month.
Global demand continues for Longevity Rules, the book published by Eskaton in 2011. Recent requests for the compendium of provocative essays on aging have come from groups of retirement facilitators in Paris and Munich, as well as the Legislative Library of Support Services in Saskatchewan, Canada. Conveners of the United Nations Conference on Aging and Technology in Geneva also shared the text with participants. Notably, two of the book’s authors Laura Carstensen and S. Jay Olshansky also contributed multiple essays to Global Population Ageing.
Eskaton’s Longevity Rules blog posts (www.longevityrules.blogspot.com) and Twitter feeds (https://twitter.com/longevityrules) are trending worldwide -- most recently attracting the United Nations Committee on Aging as a follower.
And of course the international media coverage was overwhelmingly positive for the Eskaton “Thrill of a Lifetime” for Mino Ohye earlier this year, which reunited our West Sacramento resident with his brother in Japan from whom he was separated for six decades.

Friday, August 31, 2012


ESKATON KIDS CONNECTION MATURES BEYOND YEARS. In school years, the four-year-old Eskaton Kids Connection would be a preschooler. Getting our feet wet, learning the ropes. The heavy lifting -- expectations, real learning, measurements -- would be years away.
All of which makes the program’s premature growth so noteworthy.
This year more than 500 older adults -- residents in Eskaton’s independent, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care communities -- will partner-up with an equal number of students from local elementary schools. With scheduled monthly gatherings and routine Skype session in between, the Connections are filled with reading and writing, singing and celebrating, crafting, playing and plenty of laughing. It is a unique learning experience -- cross-generational and very reciprocal.
Especially gratifying and humbling to witness are the purposeful relationships developed between the buddies. Though the Connections formally end with the school year, for each of the past three years a number of buddies continue to stay in touch, with the enduring attachments producing added value.
Adolph, 90, and Connor, 10, established a sort of surrogate grandfather-grandson relationship that exemplifies the intensity of this benefit. The two buddies stayed in touch through the summer with letters and occasional visits by Connor and his mom to Adolph’s Eskaton Care Center -- most recently to celebrate the older buddy’s 90th birthday. It was a cheerful validation of the friendship.
This summer after Adolph succumbed to his long battle with leukemia. His daughter let Connor’s mom know that her father had his young buddy’s photo by his bedside, and that “He adored Connor and was so thankful for having him in his life.” Sad as Adolph’s loss is, it is an experiential addition to Connor’s and the Eskaton Kids Connection’s life-long learning curve.
Addendum: Connor wrote a goodbye letter to Adolph that he read at his buddy’s service. “I remember when we first met I was a little nervous, I was worried you might be mean. After meeting you and getting to know you, you were really nice. ... I am really going to miss you, we had good times. ... Maybe we will get another opportunity to play checkers, if they have them in heaven. Love, Connor (Your Jr. Buddy)”