Etsuko, known by her friends as Ets, came to Grace Center 2008 at the age of 82. Ets had moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in Corvallis after breaking her hip and went through two months of rehabilitation therapy. During this time Ets’ became a widow and was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Ets also had a possible diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter brought Ets to Grace Center with the hopes that Ets could continue the rehabilitation of her hip through exercise as well as have a place to meet new people and make friends. Her daughter indicated that it was difficult to get Ets to do her exercises at home and wanted to find a way she could exercise in a group.
Ets began her time at Grace Center coming two half days per week to be involved with the exercise program. After doctor’s approval, Ets began using the Nu-Step and Biodex work out machines for ten minutes at a time. She also participated in standing balance exercises and joined the group for the hand weights circle. On her very first day at Grace Center, Ets made a close friend almost instantly with another Japanese-American woman named Satsuki. The two were often seen together throughout the day swapping stories and doing all the exercise and activities together. Ets quickly began to flourish at Grace Center and within one year’s time, she had increased her time at Grace Center to three full days a week and her daughter was reporting a noticeable improvement in physical strength including visible muscle development, improvement in gait, and overall improvements in walking ability. Ets had doubled her time on the exercise machines and continued to participate in group exercise with the addition of laps, dowels, and chair yoga. Now that she was coming full days, Ets was also participating in the activities program. At first, Ets was hesitant to participate in every activity offered at Grace Center such as art therapy, music therapy, gardening, etc., but as time went on, she began to join all the activities with eagerness and found much enjoyment in trying new things.
Another notable difference in Ets that her daughter communicated to Grace Center was Ets’ improvement in cognitive ability since attending Grace Center. The original thought that Ets’ had an Alzheimer’s diagnoses was abandoned as Ets continued to show cognitive improvement. Today, five years since her first day here, Ets continues to come to Grace Center three full days a week and continues to fully participate in the exercise and activities programs. She and Satsuki continue in their friendship and can still be found swapping stories and enjoying one another’s company. Ets reports that she loves coming to Grace Center and that if she didn’t come, she’d just be at home watching TV and knitting.
Every night Ets journals about her time at Grace Center so that she can remember all of her experiences and friendships. Ets loves to joke around and is interested in everything that goes on at Grace Center. She likes to know what everyone is doing and has thereby earned the title (of which she holds proudly) of “Hall Monitor”. Ets also likes to greet everyone who comes into the center and has become a mentor to many a new participant as they begin their journey here. When asked about her thoughts on Grace Center, Ets said, “Oh, you should come here! It is the best place. Everyone is so friendly, the food is nice, and….I’ll be here!”