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)”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


HONK IF YOU CARE. The big red plastic nose on “Densmore the Clown” (aka Denise Wilson) begs to be honked. Just as much as her broadly painted smile seeks reciprocation. The 73-year-old resident of Eskaton Village Carmichael (a continuing care community in Northern California) has been clowning around for three decades, with appearances scheduled for some time to come.

“My focus now is mostly on entertaining developmentally disabled adults and participants in Alzheimer’s adult day centers,” Wilson explains. She earned the official “caring clown” recognition by completing an intensive training program at a prestigious Canadian clown camp. Though she’s well-versed in parades and parties, and balloon animals and ukulele sing-alongs, she says she experiences the greatest satisfaction with her craft when witnessing the therapeutic benefits of humor and laughter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


ESKATON’S REALITY SHOW ENTERS FIFTH SEASON. When is a picture worth a thousand words? Almost always.

After all, when describing an older adult community and its residents how many ways are there to say active, vibrant, quality, innovative, attractive, personal, compassionate? At what point are such habitually applied “differentiators” essentially rendered irrelevant? If not already, then very soon.

On the other hand, consider the image of a genuinely satisfied resident sharing a moment a friendly administrator. It tells a story beyond words.

As Eskaton plans a new series of print and TV advertisements, our residents and program participants will for the fifth year be the stars of the show, easily eclipsing the even most original accompanying language. And that’s how it should be. Show, don’t tell.

Monday, August 20, 2012


WOOD WORK AND PLAY WITH ESKATON. They’re gearing up already, the volunteer craftsmen at Eskaton Village Carmichael, to produce another batch of 100 wooden push cars as holiday gifts for kids in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program.

The tradition began 10 years ago, taking advantage of the continuing care community’s well-equipped woodshop, and has benefited from the time and talents of a revolving team of woodworkers. Village residents Jim Jackson (photo) and his buddies Doug Darmsted and Sterling Parrish staff the project’s most recent production line.

The Village’s toy story epitomizes Eskaton’s wide-ranging commitment to volunteerism, recently recognized with a salute to nearly 300 individuals throughout the organization who’ve contributed time and resources to public-service endeavors in the past year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


NEWEST CENTENARIAN CELEBRATES RADIO, MOON LANDING AND 100TH BIRTHDAY. Amy Smith, who turns 100 today, August 14, explains that the extraordinary lifetime accomplishment ranks right up there with getting her first radio and watching the moon landing. The Eskaton Lodge Gold River resident joins three-dozen other centenarians living in Eskaton communities throughout Northern California.

Smith enjoys sewing, crocheting and knitting for fun and occasionally profit -- though her late husband joked that she probably earned about a nickel an hour for the intricate craftwork.

Prior to moving to Eskaton in 2006, Smith lived in Auburn, California, where she helped run a family-owned filling station and grocery store. Born in rural Nebraska, Smith’s fond memories include watching her father work as a blacksmith and her first Halloween dance when she met the young man who would become her husband. The couple had one son.

Eskaton provides community living and home support for more than 3,500 older adults. As the “Official Sponsor of Longevity,” the nonprofit organization has been helping older adults maintain their independence, connections to friends and family, and healthy lifestyles for more than four decades.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES, WITH NO GUILT TRIPS. Eskaton’s colorful banner in Sacramento International Airport’s new billion-dollar Terminal B hangs prominently above the 6 million passengers coming and going each year. It’s not the most likely of places to advertise Eskaton’s community living and home support for older adults. But it’s no flight of fancy either.

The calculated choice makes sense on a couple of fundamental levels. The annual cost -- equal to about a week of TV advertising in the Sacramento market -- produces roughly the same number of impressions per dollar.

More importantly, though, Eskaton’s expects the venue’s exposure to (subliminally) capture the hearts and minds of travelers coming to visit family or leaving family behind. This said, the ads themes are very subtle and inspiring -- not guilt trips. The rotating banners read: “Welcome home,” “Longevity Rules” and “Friends for Life.”