Activity and Brain Function in Seniors..

Hotel Woverine Band at San Clemente Villas                                                                   At San Clemente Villas we have residents from all walks of life, in all different stages of health, and with a variety of mental capabilities. Sometimes they come to us from retirement homes and other times they come directly from their own homes. If they have been placed here by family members, often times it is because their mental or physical abilities were in decline. Almost without exception these concerned family members notice a sharp improvement within a short period after their parents  or loved ones enter our facility.

We have a wide variety of activities for our residents. Each day there is the option to swim, to sing, to attend gatherings or to go on outings. Our activity director, Barbara, plans accordingly, so that there is something for everyone, and we gently guide people to participate in at least one activity each and every day. If you visit the facility it is likely that you will see one of our staff conducting a class or an activity in our lobby sitting area. It’s not all business, we like to make it a point to have fun.  Even  our Alzheimer’s patients respond better with more physical activity and community interaction; their families are delighted to see the difference it makes in the overall health of their loved ones!

According to our observations, the most helpful activities are walking, swimming, and dancing. And sometimes the best boost comes from a chat around the fire, or a visit from Grandchildren.  We don’t need anyone outside the facility at San Clemente Villas to tell us this helps. We see it firsthand. But it’s always reassuring when the Medical community takes notice and backs up what we already know with their respective studies, of course.

This is from Kim Painter, Special for USA TODAY Share 4

9:17AM EDT October 23. 2012 – Your Tuesday morning health roundup:

Exercise and aging brains: Physical exercise may be even more important than mental exercise when it comes to keeping mentally sharp in old age, a new study suggests. The study of people in their early 70s found that those who engaged in regular physical exercise, such as walking, retained bigger brains than those who were inactive. Mental exercise, such as doing crossword puzzles, did not seem to affect the brain shrinkage associated with aging, researchers say. (WebMD)


Recently, one of our events was Apron Day. Everyone got to wear an apron, and many of those aprons were pure fun and folly. Most of them were made by one of our residents, and we all had a good time–residents, guests, and staff alike.

That is the kind of thing we do here.

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Is it Dementia, or Your Medication?

The rising number of seniors with dementia has many older people very concerned about their memory and there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. The rate of dementia does rise sharply as we pass the 80 year mark, but if you or a loved one has experienced a rapid decrease in cognitive thinking, it may be your medication!

Medications and Dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that the most common cause of reversible dementia is medication side effects. Since the average senior takes at least 6 medications, according to the Kaiser Foundation, there’s a lot to be concerned about. That makes it imperative that you know what you are taking and all the side effects your medication may cause.Some of the biggest drug culprits for causing cognitive decline are taken by many seniors. Lipitor, Xanax, Valium, and even some antibiotics can cause reversible dementia. It’s estimated the 25 percent of prescriptions given to seniors may have harmful side effects. Since many seniors take multiple prescriptions, they’re also at risk for negative drug interactions. Seniors with multiple heath issue often see multiple specialists – and often all are prescribing drugs. Having a good primary care doctor who knows all your meds can be your first defense against medication induced dementia.

Stress from hospitalizations and serious illnesses can also cause temporary dementia. Most of the time during a hospital stay, new medications are given, as well as anesthesia. All these can contribute to thinking problems.

All elders need informed advocates, especially when they are dealing with medications and illnesses. Be proactive and quick to ask questions of your elder’s doctors. Read all the information given with a new medication. It may just save your elder and you from dealing with cognitive decline. Symptoms of temporary dementia include inappropriate behavior, hallucinations and trouble understanding conversations. Pain killers, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants also may cause decline in brain function.

Hopefully, the word about reversible dementia will spread and doctors will be more vigilant about drug choices for the elderly patients. Until then, we’ll all have to watch for these side effects ourselves.

By Karen Everett Watson – gerontologist

San Clemente Villas by the Sea – co-owner  – Aileen Brazeau



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Aileen Brazeau-Senior Living

Senior Care – Should Your Parents Be Driving?

Seniors and Driving

Everyone ages differently. There are some people who live independently, garden, dance and  have social lives well into the 80’s. There are others who begin to decline in cognitive functioning in their mid 70”s. No matter what the age, there will come a time when you have to take away the keys. That is a really tough hurdle to handle with your parents. I found some blog post online that talk about the subject:“When Should Seniors Hang Up The Car Keys?

With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.

Canada requires physicians to report any concern about a patient’s ability to drive, and they are being paid every time they warn a patient. But there’s no such requirement here in the U.S. While some seniors opt for public transportation, others stick to the roads. So, often it’s up to family members to help seniors decide when it’s time to give up the car keys.

Some families are already grappling with such decisions.

Comedian Dan Nainan travels across the country — and the world — telling tales that keep the laughs coming. Nainan is a funny guy, but there was nothing funny about what happened this year to his dad, who’s 82. “One day I got a call, and he was in a parking lot. I guess he had accelerated into a brick wall and totaled his car,” recalls Nainan.

Motor vehicle authorities took Dad’s license away, but it wasn’t so straightforward with Nainan’s mother. If he hadn’t decided to get in the car and see how she was driving, he wouldn’t have known. “She was having trouble tracking, staying straight. But what scared me — she passed our house twice and did not turn in,” he says “…..

You may live out of town and don’t get to see your parents regularly, if they are over 75, it is probably important to take at least a weekend trip to see your folks. Have them take you on errands and watch how they drive.

Talking to them will be hard, taking away the keys, more difficult, but if they cause a serious accident and you could have prevented it, that will be worse. Make sure that BEFORE you take their keys away you know what their options are for getting around.

In many areas of the country there are special buses that for a low price will take seniors to doctors appointments. Is there a cab company nearby that your folks could take to get to their activities? Social life is very important in the physical and mental health of all seniors.

Here at San Clemente Villas we have transportation available to our seniors, and we also take them on regular outings.

Aileen Brazeau

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Memory Keepers

Time is fleeting. It doesn’t wait for anyone. When we are younger, it doesn’t seem important to make the time with our loved ones really count. I was like that until my parents both suffered from serious illnesses. Somehow the experience of almost losing them, brought me to my senses. I then realized that I needed to make the most of what time we have left.

Preserving Memories

Daddy forgets a lot these days. He doesn’t have full-blown dementia, but his short term memory is getting worse. He’s not alone. Now close to 80, he has plenty of company. An estimated fifty percent of people 85 years and older now suffer from some kind of dementia.  

So how do we make our time memorable when a loved one has memory problems? The best way is to meet them where they do remember. Younger people have lots of future to look to. Older people have more past to remember. Most people with even moderate dementia can remember their childhood and early adulthood. That’s where they’re comfortable. That’s where you can connect with them.


Talking about the past and remembering the good times, is such a blessing. It doesn’t just bless the older person . . . it can bless you. Knowing the family stories and the obstacles that your loved one had to overcome to be successful in life are rich and worthy to be passed down to future generations. Talking about a person’s early life also helps us to understand them better. What great wisdom would be lost if we neglect to know how they became who they are!


My maternal grandmother raised 14 children and all reached adulthood, save one. Her husband was twice her age and long past where he could make a decent living. She is part of me. That is what I am made of. Whenever I feel discourage or that I have too much on my plate, I remember my granny. I recall all she had to do to raise those kids – feed them, cloth them, and without any help. I remember sitting on her bed and asking her why she would marry a man twice her age. I asked about her childhood and my mother’s childhood. I wouldn’t trade those stories for anything in the world.


What stories do your loved ones still need to share? Do you know why they lived where they lived? Do you know what was the happiest time in their life? Do you know what they consider their greatest accomplishment? Do you know what lessons their parents taught them that are still the most important to them? These are all topics that could enrich your life while giving them the time to share on subjects they feel comfortable with.


Our society revels in those who are young, but do we give enough honor to those who have lived good lives and have wisdom to share? Will you be the memory keeper for your family?


Here are a few questions to get you started as the Memory Keeper for your family!


  1. What occupations or roles have you had in life that has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
  2. Why did these roles or occupations seem to be gratifying to you?
  3. What single “seed of wisdom” do you hope to hand down to the next generation?
  4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  5. What was it like when you were first married?
  6. What did your family do for fun when you were young?
  7. What was your first “date” like and who was it with?
  8. When did you first learn to drive and who taught you?
  9. What was the best present you ever received as a child?
  10. What was your wedding day like? What did you wear and were there any catastrophes?

By Karen Everett Watson – gerontologist


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