Tuesday, January 31, 2012


LOW PRICE AND DEADLINES CAN BE BITTERSWEET. “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” It’s an anonymous admonition, but it speaks volumes. And if you append the additional criteria “or meeting an arbitrary deadline,” its message is even louder and more clear.

Quality is memorable. It is held in high esteem. Low price and deadlines are fleeting. As is the benefit of their immediate gratification.

The only thing to trump quality? Value: the singular distinction shared by the most successful services and products.

Friday, January 27, 2012


BROTHERS’ THRILLING REUNION CONNECTS THE WORLD. [Installment #3] Thanks to Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama and photographer Shizuo Kambayashi, the team who chronicled Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime reunion of brothers Mino Ohye, 86, and Hiroshi, 84, billions of people across the globe were able to experience their extraordinary story vicariously.

So far, more than 250 newspapers and radio and television stations reported on “Brothers reunited in Japan after six decades apart.” From Japan to the United States, from Australia to India to Kuwait, the feel-good story captured the attention of editors and readers and viewers. And donors, too, who have asked how to contribute to the Thrill program.

“How are you going to top this?” The refrain is music to the ears of Eskaton’s Public Relations Department staff. Though this Thrill of a Lifetime may be a once in a lifetime experience, the benefits continue to multiply. Among them, the resounding validation of the adage “Success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan.” The Thrill initiative’s profile around the world is higher than ever, and now so too is support within the organization. In fact, the depth of involvement in coordinating this successful venture has produced many proud, bumper-sticker sporting parents.

Yet, it is another entertaining takeaway from the experience that’s taught us something more endearing: There are two types of people in the world, those who love Mino Ohye … and those who have not yet met him.

Ohye returns home to Eskaton Wilson Manor in West Sacramento on Saturday, January 28. Watch for a fourth and final installment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


SPATIAL AWARENESS AND “PROPRIOCEPTION.” Not unlike “Munchausen syndrome” or “echolalia,” “proprioception” is one of those cool medical terms that when removed from its clinical context, offers up opportunity for humorous misappropriation.

Officially, proprioception refers to an individual’s position-movement sensation or “sense of locomotion,” as originally described. In other words, it is one’s own sense of perception of the relative position of parts of the body. (For example, law enforcement employs this in the field sobriety test that requires a subject to touch his or her nose with eyes closed.) Walking and chewing gum at the same time is another oft-cited test.

Consider proprioception as the evolving affliction of “spatial retardation.” It manifests itself most noticeably with cellphone misuse, but also in a broader sense through individuals’ lack of awareness of their surroundings; rudeness; and actions that show general disregard for others’ space and time.

Aging, maturity and social moirés influence our understanding of proprioception. Next time you witness an older adult wandering seemingly without direction or waiting for a chair to stop moving in order to sit down, think of those much younger and healthier social misfits who give new meaning to faulty proprioception.

For example, there’s the individual who walks into a mall fountain while texting; or who stops in the middle of the road to chat with friends; who’s blather sucks the air out of the room; who doesn’t offer their seat to an older person getting on a bus; who stands in the front row of a concert; who sneezes into their hand and then extends it to shake; who lets one rip in a crowded elevator; and worst of all, who races past stand-still traffic to the end of the merge lane and expects others to allow him or her to cut ahead.

In a civilized world, we would be more patient with people, especially older adults, challenged with their own proprioception. And perpetrators of anti-social proprioception or spatial retardation would be ostracized or cited.

Monday, January 23, 2012


EXHILARATION AND RELIEF AS BROTHERS REUNITE. [Installment #2] The most extraordinary aspect of Eskaton’s Thrill of a Lifetime program is that it provides rewards well beyond the Thrill recipient. Everyone that the Thrills touch share in the anticipation, excitement and inspiration.

All for this moment: The photo of Mino Ohye, the Eskaton Wilson Manor resident who reunited today -- on his 86th birthday! -- with his brother Hiroshi in Japan from whom he was separated nearly 60 years ago, records the actual thrilling reconnection.

And now everyone involved in making this happen can breathe a sigh of relief, and bask in the Thrill as well.

Thrill of Lifetime director Suzanne Strassburg is the dedicated logistical magician behind the production. 

Eskaton Wilson Manor administrator Debbie Reynolds discovered Mino’s remarkable story, and helped bring it to fruition. 

California State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada hosted the fundraiser Eskaton sponsored at the West Sacramento VFW to raise funds for the trip; and linked Eskaton with the Japanese Consul General in San Francisco, whose connections with Japan Airlines and others provided additional support and reassurances. 

Eskaton Foundation upped the experience a notch as well; donor Jose Kirchner contributed Mino’s executive-class flight. 

And Brian Berry, a California State University, Sacramento doctoral student currently living in Japan, is serving as Mino’s travel companion and interpreter. (Eskaton was connected with Berry by CSUS associate professor Kazue Masuyama, Ph.D.) One of his regular updates follows:


Hiroshi brought his son and his son's wife along, and had brought a very large cake. One of the largest I had seen in Japan. They had it special ordered. There was an exchange of gifts, including one for Debbie. Hiroshi also said very clearly to give a huge thank you to Mariko Yamada. They were very grateful for everything, and I promised them I'd let you all know that as soon as possible.

There were plenty of hugs. The Associated Press came along and Hiroshi agreed to be filmed even during the reunion moment and even interviewed during the whole time. I'm very glad I had the crew I did, as they were extremely cooperative and considerate. They recorded the exact moment when they finally met after almost 60 years as well. I made sure to use a portion of [Eskaton’s money] to pay for a nice special dinner for Hiroshi, Minoru-san, and Hiroshi's son and the son's wife. They insist on paying for the next lunch though.

They were very relaxed and very happy by the end of the night, and it went great.

Total success!

Brian Berry

* Google "Eskaton" to enjoy the international news coverage.

Friday, January 20, 2012


MINO OHYE DEPARTS ON ESKATON’S GRANDEST THRILL YET. [Installment #1] Today Minoru Ohye, 85, a resident of Eskaton Wilson Manor in West Sacramento, embarks on his extraordinary Thrill of a Lifetime to reunite with his brother in Japan, from whom he was separated in the midst of WWII more than 60 years ago. Updates on this film-worthy story will be relayed regularly during his week-long trip.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


WIN PUBLIC APPROVAL: PLAY BILLIARDS RATHER THAN POOL. The most effective public relations endeavors are those validated by respected, impartial authorities. This represents to targeted audiences that your goals are important and clearly in the public interest.

“Independent validation,” as described by Edward L.Bernays, founder of the public relations profession, “is analogous to playing the game of billiards rather of pool. If you assert yourself directly on elements of society, as one ball hitting another, you will be labeled a propagandist by those whose attitudes and actions you are attempting to modify.

“However, if you have independent sources deliver your message indirectly, as a billiard shot uses a cushion before hitting its target, you are more likely to gain acceptance.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


IT TAKES A VILLAGE … WITH AGING SERVICES. Beacon Hill Village and other so-called Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (or NORCs) continue to generate curiosity, support and positive media coverage. The practice of older adults banding together as “villages” to assist one another is certainly commendable. Aging Services of California most recently featured the cover story “Villages: A New Take on an Old Idea” in its January 2012 edition of the monthly agenda journal.

So … how do villages or NORCs relate to those independent and assisted living communities and skilled care centers provided by aging services organizations? It is a legitimate question, though one that is variously side-stepped by village elders as well as aging services providers. The agenda article by Susan Poor, an advisor to the newly formed Village-to-Village Network, effuses that “…we are only at the tip of the iceberg in witnessing the creativity and innovation that can emerge from the Village movement.” True, perhaps, but, again, this prolific movement begs the questions, How do and will they affect professional aging services providers?

Most Villages outright state or infer an objective is to keep members out of institutions. Some more proudly than others: Beacon Hill Villages’ website features a CBS News story (1-14-07) that interviews member Dorothy Weinstein, 98, identified as the Villages’ “poster child.”

The reporter asks Weinstein: “Have you ever thought about going to a retirement community?” To which she responds: “No, no, no. I just couldn’t place me in one of those places. What would I do all day? Here at least I’m somebody. There I would be a nobody.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement, nor an invitation to work together to, say, help those villagers who become too ill or frail to live at home.

Eskaton’s new Live Well at Home program attempts to provide supportive services that balance individuals’ desire to age-in-place with the occasional or eventual need for professional aging services. “Your home. Our experience.” the literature reassures. The evolution of care for older adults may include brick-and-mortar communities and care centers, programs such as Live Well at Home, natural Villages or some new hybrid. Since no one knows for sure, it only makes sense that more options, better collaboration and mutual respect will benefit everyone.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


ESKATON DEFINES “LONGEVOUS.” Eskaton, the “Official Sponsor of Longevity,” begins an especially longevous new year with 39 centenarians and another six 99-year-olds. Collectively, this is a significant accomplishment -- in fact, the ratio of age 100+ individuals in Eskaton’s population is 50 times greater than in the general population -- but more importantly each centenarian represents an extraordinary individual accomplishment.

Last year we boasted Eskaton was a “Blue Zone.” Though done so with tongue-in-cheek, the claim drew some constructive criticism.

Jay Olshansky, author of The Quest for Immortality and professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was right to clarify. Eskaton illustrates the “power of migration,” he noted in response to the earlier “Blue Zone” boast/post. “The concept of Blue Zones applies only to largely closed populations where the prevalence of exceptionally old people is influenced by something other than people moving from place to place,” he explained.

Olshansky added that referring to Eskaton as a Blue Zone “is equivalent to suggesting that we should all move into homes of senior care because the average age of residents is higher than the rest of the population.”

Granted Eskaton is not technically a “Blue Zone,” though its population certainly defines longevous or “long lived.” So maybe we can claim to be a “Migratory Blue Zone,” populated by individuals who made the move to live longer … at home with Eskaton.