Tuesday, May 21, 2013


ALZHEIMER’S CAN’T REPRESS 60TH ANNIVERSARY PICNIC. An anniversary picnic is always romantic and definitely memorable. Perhaps never more so for Dolores and Kenneth Payton, who celebrated the 60th anniversary of their wedding day on May 17, with a picnic for the ages at Eskaton Care Center Fair Oaks, where Dolores, 81, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, now resides.
Ken, 86, now lives on his own in their Citrus Heights home. He visits his wife nearly every day, though he confided recently to Danijela Stroud, Eskaton activities director, “I do not believe she recognizes me anymore.” According to Stroud, this melancholy conversation with Ken, as Dolores sat passively nearby, proceeded into a trip down memory lane.
He spoke of her love for horseback riding and gardening, his passion for bike riding, and their frequent mountain hikes. His storytelling and attention to detail was likely perfected by a career in journalism, spanning three decades, mostly with the Sacramento Bee.
Ken also shared a glamour shot of his bride, pulled from his wallet. But it was when he spoke of their favorite romantic pastime – picnics – that both Stroud and Ken were surprised and thrilled to see Dolores’ stoical look morph into a huge smile.
“She remembers, it’s a miracle,” exclaimed Ken. The moment was not lost on Stroud, either, who set in motion plans for a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary picnic.
It truly was a day to remember as several dozen fellow residents joined the celebration, for which Eskaton staff prepared the couple’s favorite food -- chicken and apple pie -- and even arranged for the special guests to be serenaded with their favorite country music.
Eskaton and its Fair Oaks Care Center help residents experience a wide range of life-enrichment programs, such as the anniversary picnic. Last year, Stroud and her co-workers arranged a unprecedented birthday celebration for five centenarians. Plus, there’s Thrill of a Lifetime events and the Kids Connection program to routinely create pleasant distractions within the community.