Thursday, June 28, 2012


ESKATON’S CONNECTIONS GO CYBER. The grand opening today of Connections Café at Eskaton Jefferson Manor marks an extraordinary place in time. When nonprofit groups establish creative, mutually beneficial partnerships to extend the scope of their services. Where older adults can enjoy a hot, nutritious meal; and connect with the Internet and with one another.

About 100 healthy meals were served today at the Connections Café, courtesy of the Asian Community Center's Meals on Wheels, a Sacramento area nonprofit nutrition program that coincidentally served its one millionth meal today as well. The newest among ACC’s 23 nutrition locations, Eskaton Jefferson Manor is unique as the first to combine the free daily meals with free use of touch-screen computers and Internet access.

The Connections Café demonstrates Eskaton’s commitment to expanding social services for its affordable housing residents. With the success of Connections Café as a model, the organization anticipates scaling to a chain of cafes to serve more of Eskaton’s 15 affordable apartment communities throughout Northern California and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


QUIETCARE SPEAKS VOLUMES IN ESKATON COMMUNITIES. Eskaton’s initial installation of the innovative QuietCare remote monitoring system is creating quite a buzz among residents, family members and staff. The unobtrusive technology, discreetly situated in residences, is performing around-the-clock as anticipated -- identifying anomalous patterns in residents’ routines and lifestyle patterns; and prompting caregivers to make more informed, quicker responses.

Deployment of the evolutionary motion sensors, developed by GE/Intel joint venture Care Innovations, will be complete in all Eskaton independent living, assisted living and memory care communities by the end of the year.

Eskaton is conducting research to track the long-range benefits of the monitoring system. In the meantime, anecdotal reports have already confirmed a number of resident health and safety interventions. Family members also are expressing added reassurance with the enhanced care. And sales and marketing teams are using QuietCare as a signature differentiator with consumers, who seem to appreciate Eskaton’s commitment to such innovation and early adoption of new technologies.

Monday, June 25, 2012


MULTI-TASK: LIVE AND LEARN. A young gerontology student living amongst older adults? Whether inspired or obvious, it is nonetheless an unprecedented experience that Eskaton and California State University, Sacramento partnered to launch at the beginning of 2012.

The student, Yovana Gojnic, and her Eskaton Henson Manor neighbors share many similar interests -- cooking, gardening, reading, communicating with friends and family over the Internet, and volunteering with the students from the nearby school.

So it isn’t all that surprising how effortlessly she is connecting with fellow residents. Except for the fact that the ages of the other 90-100 residents at Henson Manor in Sacramento, one of Eskaton’s 15 affordable-living communities for older adults, range from two to three times that of the 29-year-old Gojnic.

As she works toward her Master’s degree in gerontology and public policy at California State University, Sacramento, she agreed to be the program’s first student to participate in this innovative immersion learning project, the “Eskaton / CSUS Student Living and Learning Experience.”

The year-long experience earns Gojnic program credit as she lives and learns with older adults. Consistent with the purpose of the “applied research” project, Gojnic will participate in nutrition and cooking classes, book clubs, expansion of community’s urban garden, a veterans appreciation initiative, computer training and similar projects – all of which will be chronicled for review by CSUS and Eskaton staff. A goal for Eskaton in championing the concept is to encourage peer organizations and local universities across the country to adopt the program.

Closer to home, Gojnic enthuses, “My goal is to hopefully enrich their lives as much as they enrich mine.”

Getting involved in something new is well within Gojnic’s wheelhouse. Already her experience includes serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and teaching elementary school. And currently and simultaneously, besides her CSUS studies, she is working as the sales and marketing assistant for Eskaton’s continuing care community; and training for a California fitness and figure competition this summer.

By contrast, Gojnic observes, “My neighbors love to go for walks, visit, bake and work their garden. Enjoying a more balanced lifestyle, with healthier ‘time management,’ may be the most important thing I learn during this experience.”

Note: Frasier Meadows Retirement Community in Boulder, Colorado, just launched a similar, but more intensive ethnographic research project, conducted by Varsity, a Pennsylvania branding firm varsity. For more on “Project Looking Glass II” and an excellent daily blog, check

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


WITH THE SILVER TSUNAMI COMES SEA CHANGE. Get ready for a wave of cultural transformations (and a boatload of related clichés) as 78 million boomers, society’s new and largest-ever cohort of older adults, begin to exert their heft. Anticipate looking back 20 years from now, and being impressed and nostalgic about the following paradigm shifts (first cliché alert).

Multiple generations of families will cohabitate. What is different, is households will become more collaborative ventures -- with families caring for one another (younger for old, and older for younger), sharing expenses, carpooling, dividing chores and, by the best of intentions, making the multi-age living experience more productive than annoying.

New homes and renovations will routinely incorporate livable designs and features to accommodate those who desire to grow older in their own homes for as long as possible. Livable design will enhance homes’ resale value as well.

Use of Skype and other online video communications will replace many actual family visits. Daily online video connections will also do much to alleviate anxiety about not making regular trips to visit infirmed parents and grandparents.

Alzheimer’s disease will be largely preventable -- removing an extraordinary burden from dementia sufferers and informal caregivers. Memory care providers will modify services and collaborate with assisted living communities to offer hybrid, multi-level models and options for residents with dementia.

Use of music, art, humor and other therapies proven to uniquely engage the brain creativity will be standard practice in caring for individuals with dementia.

Walking devices will definitely become simpler and more attractive. In fact, all assistive technologies will be way cooler and de-stigmatized. Watch out for more three-wheel bicycles with baskets, too.

Increased demand for surgeries and devices to improve eyesight and hearing will prompt the frenetic pace of progressive solutions, and more affordable corrective procedures.

Healthy fast food chains will dominate the market -- to the point “healthy” is no longer a differentiator.

First Florida, then other states, will designate the right lanes of highways as “accommodation lanes” for more cautious drivers, with speed limits reduced by 15 miles per hour.

Longevity and patience of older adults will force policymakers to commit to more long-term, substantive solutions with less focus solely on politically motivated immediate gratification.

Boomers will show appreciation for their “longevity dividend” (cliché alert) through generativity -- the principle of one generation looking out for another. Environmental protection and resource conservation will once again become a top concern.

Along this same line of thought, the “compression of morbidity” (prolonging active living and delaying disability for older adults” -- another cliché alert) will inspire legions of volunteers, mentors and experience counselors.

Retirement age will gradually advance to early seventies. To compensate for this inevitability, employers will create flexible workforces and hours to accommodate and respect the standardized practice of “transfer of experience” from veteran to fresh employees.

Centenarians will have to celebrate their 110th birthday to become newsworthy.

“Anti-aging” nostrums and advertisements will be perceived as ageist. (Florida will attempt to make it unlawful to sell or promote “anti-aging” anything.)

Engaged couples, both with hyphenated last names, will not appreciate their Boomer parents’ conceit.

And, successful aging services providers will offer more affordable services and care to give consumers more aging-in-place (final cliché alert) options focused on “your home, our experience.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


ASK ORIGINAL QUESTIONS. In marketing and sales, the most fundament principle is to promote benefits rather than attributes. In other words, it is more effective to discover and then accentuate what is relevant to the consumer instead of simply bragging about all the features of your product or service -- some or all of which may not be relevant to your audience.

In other words, literally, it is more productive to listen more and talk less. To take advantage of this inherently difficult process, salespeople need to challenge themselves (and their prospects) by replacing sales pitches with thoughtful, probing questions.

Think about how infrequently you actually are asked an original, personal question -- and how much-appreciated and memorable the experience is. It is the same thing with a talk show guest who noticeably perks up when the host poses a unique question: “Wow, I’ve never been asked that before.”

A top sales consulting firm includes a key question on the inquiry sheet to be completed during calls with adult children considering aging services for their parents: “What is your greatest concern for your loved one at this time?” The question is valuable and probably never been posed to the individual. And, best of all, the purpose of the answer is mutually beneficial: Your consideration will almost certainly leave a lasting impression that distinguishes you and your community from the competition.

Feel free to test the approach on family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances. You will find playing talk show host or journalist is always appreciated.

Monday, June 11, 2012


OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK FOR ASSISTED LIVING. The nation’s largest assisted living providers believe that the sector will continue to benefit from several trends -- among them the geographic separation of families (precluding “informal” caregiving) and that the supply of new assisted living is not growing at a pace equal to that of our older adult population.

The optimistic outlook is reported in Provider magazine’s annual “Top 40 Assisted Living Companies” profile, which observes that “The expansion of ancillary services and specialty care among assisted living providers continues at a steady pace this year.”

With Eskaton’s reported “total assisted living occupant capacity” of 843, the organization ranks 37th overall and fourth among California providers. More exclusively, though, Eskaton is one of only five nonprofit companies listed, and the only one based in California.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


BUCKMINSTER FULLER AND THE KEY OF LIFE. He is one of the 20th century’s great and certainly most prolific inventors. You might even say Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) invented the big idea. According to Wikipedia and other sources, his professions and titles include inventor, theorist, architect, engineer, author, professor, designer, philosopher, futurist and his preferred “property of the universe.” He was a pioneer in global thinking, exploring principles of renewable and efficient energy, sustainability and human survival.

Most of his life’s work concentrated on designs for practical shelter and transportation. He is credited with popularizing the geodesic dome, the affordably produced lattice-shell structure used for residential and commercial buildings and military installations in the mid-20th century.

Similar in concept, his round Dymaxion House, popularized post WWII, was a showcase for energy efficiency and affordable construction. The then-ultra-modern design included features like revolving dresser drawers, a fine-mist shower to conserve water, and a rotating device in the ceiling (photo) to create natural winds for cooling and circulation. A model is now on permanent display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Sort of a modern-day Da Vinci, Fuller also was fascinated with transportation. In the 1930s, he designed and built the Dymaxion, an 18-foot-long concept car that he used to encourage a form of transportation that could be safer, more aerodynamic, and conserve fuel (It got 30 miles to the gallon and seated 11).

Fuller considered himself an independent thinker and committed to searching for the principles governing the universe and determining how to use them to help advance the evolution of humanity. In his book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, chapter one “comprehensive propensities” begins with one this profound observation:

I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.

Monday, June 4, 2012


5 CELEBRATE 100-PLUS. Five centenarian residents of Eskaton Care Center Fair Oaks got together this May 25 to celebrate the 102nd birthday of their friend and neighbor Melborn Fagerlie.

This marks the first time in Eskaton’s 43-year history that five residents ages 100 or older reside in the same community. The Northern California-based aging services provider typically boasts between 30-40 centenarians among its 3,000 residents in 28 communities.

Fagerlie’s colorful and still active life includes music and social events, church programs, relaxing in the outdoor gazebo, and enjoying his daily coffee and ice cream. His work history, as varied as it was interesting, included blacksmithing, U.S. Naval service, dredging, and finally as a correctional officer at the Old Folsom Prison, where he recalls providing security at the famous “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” concert.

When asked what he would like for his coming birthday, Fagerlie grinned and asked, “What you got?” And, in a TV interview, Fagerlie responded to the question about the key to his long, happy life: “Women!” And what he most looks forward to: “Ice cream!”

“We refer to ourselves as the “Official Sponsor of Longevity,” said Stephen Fife, administrator of the skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. “Centenarian birthdays are extraordinary accomplishments, always worthy of celebration.”

The Eskaton Care Center’s other centenarians, all women, each 100, are (from left to right) Caroline Lindgren, Ruth Shurrum, Lee White and Maria Defru.