Wednesday, May 30, 2012


ESKATON RESIDENT TAKES “THRILLING” HORSEBACK RIDE. Mariam, who rode horses constantly throughout her teenage years, hoped to once ride again in her lifetime. The 97-year-old Eskaton resident got her wish thanks to the organization's Thrill of a Lifetime Initiative.

“I never thought there would be a possibility to ride again,” Mariam said. Which was all the attentive Eskaton staff needed to hear. To produce the unique Thrill, Eskaton partnered with the local group Project R.I.D.E., which guided her on a 30-minute ride through the facility’s outdoor trail. “If I could, I’d ride every day ... It was beautiful,” Russell beamed, after being assisted from the horse back to her wheelchair.

Click here to read the complete Elk Grove Citizen story, with photo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


THE STROKE OF A BAT. When circumstances blur the line separating cause from effect, the result can be both curious and extraordinary.

For example. Zac, 9, hit his first of many Little League homeruns on May 1. Amid the fans cheering in the grandstands sat his grandpa, quietly soaking in the uniquely thrilling moment. “I only want to live long enough to see my grandson hit a homerun,” he would joke before each game.

That night the proud grandpa phoned his two brothers and a number of friends across the country to boast about his grandson’s mighty slam.

Zac was asleep by the time his dad arrived home from an unfortunately scheduled business meeting (redundant, I know) that pulled him away midway through the game. Later that night the grandpa phoned his son, Zac’s dad, and was overjoyed to get to be the first to tell him the story of Zac’s heroics.

The next day another unpredictable, yet inevitable event happened. The grandpa, only 63 but suffering for several years from acute kidney failure, died abruptly from a massive stroke.

This story is not to suggest something as cliché as the power of positive thinking kept my dad alive long enough to witness his “thrill of a lifetime.” Actually, I believe it’s more likely his powerful thoughts helped lift that ball over the centerfield fence. And to think it only took 22 years to distinguish the cause from effect of that serendipitous stroke of the bat.

I wish there was some double-underlined moral to share here. But, if nothing else, maybe this story will encourage others, especially long-term care practitioners, to document some of the “metaphysical coincidences” that seem to occur almost daily.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


ESKATON’S “LIFE IS A BALL” WINS ALFA FILM AWARD. Consistent with the metaphor behind "Life is a Ball short film, the 2011 production continues to take on new life.  

The Assisted Living Federation of America (AFLA) shared the good news with Pilotfish Productions, the creative team responsible for the Eskaton film and multiple other films and TV commercials:
“Life is a Ball” has been awarded the First Prize film in the ALFA Short Film Competition on Ageism. We will screen “Life is a Ball” at the second general session of our National Conference in Dallas. Thank you for making this film. We're thrilled to support your work. Congratulations!
       -- Nathan Nickens, Senior Director, ALFA: Creating the Future of Senior Living

About the ALFA’s “Short Films on Ageism” Competition
The following content from ALFA’s website provides interesting background on the film competition: ALFA sponsors an annual film competition featuring short films (under 8 minutes) about ageism that illuminate specific discriminatory practices against seniors, prejudicial attitudes toward the aging process, and institutional practices that perpetuate stereotypes about seniors.
With the long-term goal of eliminating ageism in our society, winning films:
§   Demonstrate the destructive forces of ageism in society and/or
§   Raise public awareness of how ageism is expressed in direct or subtle ways and/or
§   Demonstrate how individuals can change their attitudes and behavior towards older adults.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


ASSISTED LIVING. INSPIRED BY YOU.” Eskaton launches its 2012 TV commercial this week, highlighting resident satisfaction within its assisted living Lodges.

The ad begins: “As you recall, my mom and I were both hesitant about making the move. But, you have such a welcoming community that mom is thriving once again.”

This note, along with many other letters Eskaton receives from satisfied residents and family members, is featured through voice-overs and visuals in the new 30-second spot. Eskaton uses this independent validation to help tell the story of the positive impact of its assisted living Lodges. The commercial will air in the greater Sacramento area throughout the year and can also be viewed at online.

As with all Eskaton productions, the ad comes from the creative team at Pilotfish Productions. Pilotfish also was recognized this week with first prize in the Assisted Living Federation of America’s “Short Film Competition” for its “Life is a Ball” documentary for Eskaton.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


A VERY INTIMATE THRILL OF A LIFETIME: From its inception, Eskaton positioned its Thrill of a Lifetime Initiative as an opportunity to connect with residents on a very intimate level. This exemplary story was recently shared by an Eskaton Care Center.

Our activity director Kathy noticed that one of our residents appeared a little sad. She stopped to talk. The resident simply responded that he was feeling a little down. He just couldn’t do the things he used to do.

As a stroke survivor, this is not unusual. Kathy could have simply reassured him that we’re here to help and left it at that, but she didn’t. Sensing something deeper, she persisted until finally the truth came out. He confided in her that the next day would be his 27th wedding anniversary. And while his wife was nearby, and visited often, it would be the first time they would be apart and that he couldn’t do anything about it ... or for her.

Kathy reassured him that he could do something about it and she’d help him. With that, Kathy enlisted the help of Sue Kim, the assistant food service director. Together, they had contacted the local Sizzler (the couple’s favorite eatery) and, with the support of the manager, ordered a special dinner. They then arranged for a cake and balloon bouquet; made arrangements for a specially decorated table for two at the community (Due to his health, he couldn’t travel to the restaurant); secured the services of two violinists; made sure there was a sparkling drink for a toast; and, not forgetting even the smallest detail, got an appropriate anniversary card for the resident to present his wife.

All that was left was for him to call his wife and invite her to dinner.

On April 26, less than 24 hours after feeling helpless and hopeless, our resident was able to fulfill his Thrill of a Lifetime by enjoying a special dinner, on a very special day, with the most special person in his life.  All because someone took the time to listen and make a difference.

Now you know the story behind the story and why we do what we do: transforming the aging experience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


MUSEUM TOUR ENLIVENS INDIVIDUALS WITH ALZHEIMER’S. Ideas, emotions, humor and reminisces spread up and down the massive corridors and through the maze of rooms of the Crocker Art Museum. Like a creative, healthy contagion. First to be infected was the tour group of six residents from Eskaton’s Memory Care community, who remarkably seemed to forget their disease and its cognitive limitations. Then, as if through direct contact, the team leading the tour -- the museum’s docents, Eskaton staff and the ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s director -- forgot about their charges’ disease as well.

“All of us were completely engaged by the beauty surrounding us,” observed Tiffany Paige with ARTZ. “The Alzheimer’s seemed to go away while we were in the gallery. It’s as if their minds weren’t so busy and hurried like the rest of the world that they were able see things in a different way. Their enthusiasm was infectious. We got to experience a deeper beauty because of them.”

The April museum visit is an extension of Eskaton’s partnership with the Sacramento Chapter of ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s, whose ARTZ Delivers program brings artwork to Memory Care communities to share with residents. Fieldtrips to Crocker and The California Museum, scheduled through June, then provide the residents an opportunity to enjoy public art exhibitions.

Carolyn, one of the Eskaton participants, said the tour “makes me think at a higher level.” Another participant, Fernando, joked “nature and nature,” about two adjacent painting, a woodsy landscape and a nude woman. It was definitely a memorable experience for everyone.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


CREATIVE THERAPIES PROMOTE HEALING AND LAUGHTER. Your funny bone might just be the only sore body part to result from Eskaton’s newest rehabilitative therapy. It’s laughable but true. Humor therapy is among an expanding schedule of innovative therapies Eskaton offers to some or all residents in its independent, assisted, skilled nursing and memory care communities. All of which are intended to complement the primary occupational, physical and speech therapies provided by Eskaton Care Centers and Home Healthcare.

“Our goal is to provide therapies that are both effective and engaging,” explains Jane Rupp, a quality and compliance nurse with Eskaton. “Enthusiasm definitely motivates participants and helps with the healing process.”

The cornucopia of activity -- designed to rehabilitate and rejuvenate -- borrows bits and pieces from everything from reality TV to life-long learning to petting zoos. There truly is something for everyone:

Music therapy, an especially popular and effective program with dementia sufferers, an example of which recently became a YouTube sensation of sorts, uniquely engages otherwise unresponsive individuals as well as generally enthuses participants. Similarly “therapeutic music” has a soothing effect on residents in skilled nursing and memory care, as well as hospice patients. “They should write a prescription for your music,” commented one appreciative resident to the guest harpist, “because when you play for me, my pain goes away.” Another patient, who was completely non-verbal, started singing along to the harpist’s rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and thanked her afterwards for the beautiful music.

Art therapy uses in-house demonstrations and museum visits to inspire creativity with memory care residents. Eskaton partners with ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s on this new concept.

Pet therapy, popular within many Eskaton communities, brings a virtual zoo of sensory stimulations to residents who can look, touch, smell and hold a wide variety of furry and feathered creatures.

Humor therapy and laughing yoga, led by a certified laugh instructor, cheerfully exercises the mind and body with a variety “cowboy,” “aloha” and other laughs -- each with their own movements and sounds.

“Beats and Rhythm” therapy uses bells, egg shakers, tambourines and maracas to engage memory-impaired individuals. Rhythm therapy also encourages adult healthcare residents to play instruments, sing and dance. One particular dance therapy program involves individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Chair yoga focuses on stretching, deep breathing exercises and hand massages.

Chair zumba promotes cognitive and physical fitness with memory care residents.

Tai Chi chair therapy helps heal sore muscles and even promotes healthier sleeping.

Adaptive gardening and horticulture therapy offers a trifecta of benefits -- community beautification, gardens of healthy eats and purposeful living.

Galactic therapy encourages "big-picture" philosophical discussions among residents.

Cooking therapy with a resident as “celebrity chef” introduces a new recipe each session.

“Monday Motivators” is an open communication and self-awareness forum.

“Guided Autobiography” offers both creative and reminiscence therapeutic value.

Storytelling therapy encourages positive social and cognitive skills.

Coloring therapy promotes creativity and conversation, along with a calming effect for memory care residents.

“Lasting Memories” uses teen volunteers to help memory care residents with scrapbooking projects.