Memory Care Specialty

What do you do when your Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or Auntie and Uncle start to lose their ability to live independently? When the only memories they have are of days long gone by? Grandma is still her loving self, but she no longer knows who you are. Grandpa, who was always kind and gentle, is now easily upset and agitated.

These are all signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and for our family member and our loved ones, this disease is devastating. Not every place knows how to care for these loved ones. Placing them in a regular nursing home or assisted living facility can be dangerous. If they have enough days in the week where they appear lucid ad able to function, someone untrained in how to deal with memory impaired patients can get complacent, and that’s when a loved one can wander off.

I have listened to enough stories to know when it’s time to get your loved one into a special care facility, or somewhere like here, at San Clemente Villas, where we have our West Indies Wing that caters solely to people with memory impairments.

Caring .Com has some good advice on how to tell if someone you know should be placed in Memory Care Assisted Living:

“Here are some questions to help you decide whether the person needs more assistance. Each “yes” answer is a red flag that warrants a closer look.

Sign it’s time for assisted living #1: Changes in communication

  • Have letters and grandchildren’s birthday cards slowed or stopped?
  • Does she seldom initiate calls anymore (it’s always you calling first)?
  • Does she seem in a hurry to get off the phone, fail to ask you many questions, or seem unresponsive to your comments?
  • Do you get nonemergency calls at unreasonable hours, or hear complaints from friends that they’re receiving such calls?

As dementia progresses, she may find it difficult to follow the steps involved in writing, addressing, stamping, and mailing a letter. Phone conversations become difficult to follow. It can be worrisome when you can only get firsthand updates by visiting in person. And someone who can’t write and mail letters may also have trouble completing the steps involved in cooking or driving. Odd communications in the evenings or at night can be characteristic of sundown syndrome, the worsening of confusion and other Alzheimer’s symptoms that sometimes occurs late in the day.

Sign it’s time for assisted living #2: Changes in self-care

  • Is she losing weight inexplicably?
  • Is she gaining weight inexplicably?
  • Has her usual style (hair, makeup, clothing) become noticeably different?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the occasion?
  • Does she dress appropriately for the weather?
  • Have you detected the smell of urine on her clothes?
  • Does she stay up later and later, and then not wake until practically midday?


My staff and I are happy to make an appointment with you to discuss whether your loved one might be better off, and more safe in our beautiful facility here in San Clemente Ca. If we meet you, go over their medical records, chat with their physician, and spend a little time with your Mom or Dad, we will know better what course to take.

Give us a call, no obligation, and we can chat.


Aileen Brazeau

Co-owner, San Clemente Villas by the Sea,

Assisted living, dementia care, alzheimer’s care, South Orange County



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Facts & Myths

If you have ever experienced the pain of watching and caring for a family member or close friend with Dementia or Alzheimer’s you know how devastating these afflictions can be. They gradually destroy the minds of once active, intelligent men and women. The people who guided you through life no longer live in the body you see, they are gone and you won’t ever get them back. I make it a point to donate, advocate and share information at every turn  to help people understand and cope with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

I am extending an invitation to you and yours to attend this seminar at San Clemente Villas Assisted Living Facility in San Clemente :

san clemente villas seminar on Alzheimers and Dementia

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Doggie Love for Seniors


Visiting Dogs for Seniors

There are organizations all over the country who understand the impact and importance of dogs visiting seniors in their visiting dogs at San Clemente Villasenvironment. Here at San Clemente Villas we love it when dogs come and visit our seniors. They bring love and warmth to our place.

At our senior living facility we know that some days can get pretty long. No matter how many activities we plan for our people, there are just days when our people can get to feeling down. On November 18 our favorite doggies came to San Clemente Villas by The Sea. All the dogs were happy to see each other and the residents got a big, warm dose of doggie love. On this day friends Sugar Flyer, Star and Jet who were all visiting at the same time came to give a triple dose of that doggie love!

I want to let you in on a little secret, it’s not just the residents who enjoy the visiting dogs, and our staff loves it too. There is something about a creature so full of love and joy that warms everyone’s heart. These three dogs just love being here, and that happiness emanates from them and we all hate to see them go. Paul and I love our dogs, so we already know how the love of a good dog can change your life.

If you have a dog that interacts well with others, is pretty calm and well behaved, call the facility where your loved ones are and ask if it would be alright to bring your dog. Unless your loved ones don’t care for dogs, it will be the highlight of their day. And never underestimate  the extra notice and extra esteem  you loved one receives when they take the dog around to all of their friends.

Aileen Brazeau



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Just Being There For Them


be there for you older family members

By Karen Everett Watson



There are hundreds of decisions to make in life, especially for care givers. What are the best doctor for my parents? Where should they live? What should they be eating? The list goes on and on. The truth is, the best thing you can do for your mom or dad is just to be there.

In the end, will they remember that you found the right doctor, or the right in-home care? Will they reminisce about you finding them the right diet? What we remember  most about those we love is they cared to show up for the dance. It might be a slow dance. It might be a tango, but we came, we tried our best, and most of all we showed them our love by giving them our time.

I’ve always been fascinated by older people. Even as a teenager, I’d visit the church widows and  other elders who were  confined to a rest home. I hope it made them happy. I know it made me a better person. Their wisdom and life stories were fascinating to me. What they gave me was much more than I could ever give them.


When my children were small, I’d take them along with me on those visits. Oh, how those elders loved to see my kids’ shining faces come into their rooms. Even the men and women we weren’t really there to visit would stop them, take their hands, and ask them questions to keep them talking.  It was a bright spot in a day filled with too much there momma emmie


One visit was quite special. An old friend from church who loved my kids was admitted into a care facility due to a recent illness. He wasn’t doing well at all. He could barely talk, but when he looked down at the three kids, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. I got a phone call shortly after we returned home from the last visit we made. “Uncle Floyddie” had passed away just a few minutes after we left. It made me cry to think I almost hadn’t gone that day. He meant a lot to my children and I know they felt they were able to tell him goodbye.

Sometimes those we visited didn’t say a word. They would just look into our faces and I knew they appreciated that we had came. When folks get dementia, and it progresses to later stages, often they don’t talk at all. It’s easy to just stop visiting. It’s somewhat uncomfortable for many of us to try to keep a one sided conversation going, but it’s still important. Just your presence says they matter. Not only to those we love, but to the people who are caring for them. If your loved one is in a care home, your visits bring a new understanding to the hand’s on caregivers you see. They become more than just a sweet elder, they become a dad, or a mom, a grandpa, or grandma – important people!

Your visit will live on long after you have left. If your loved one still lives at home, they talk about your visit to those they call on the phone, or stop by. When you have a loved one in a retirement community, your loved one will most likely brag about you coming. They bring their friends up-to-date on the grandkids and great-grands.

For those of you who do the hands’ on care giving, it’s easy to feel unappreciated. Don’t believe that little voice that says, “I’m not doing enough,” or “I can’t seem to make mom or dad happy.” You mean so much to your parents that it might be hard for them to even try to express it. Losing their independence and having to rely on anyone is something they rather just not think about. Pain, illnesses and life changes make it hard to have a good attitude all the time. You be their cheerleader. You tell them you love them, even if they fail to respond. What you are doing is perhaps the greatest gift you could ever give. Oh, and if you really want to feel special, bring the grandkids over! It a winner every time!

Aileen Brazeau’s blog



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

What To Do When A Loved One Has Dementia

dementia in seniorsWhat do you do when your loved one has dementia? You be patient and do your best to stay calm. At San Clemente Villas we have an entire wing devoted to Alzheimer’s Patients, but all dementia is not Alzheimer’s. Often people with dementia can still function at a pretty high level. They may have confusion about certain things, but they can still discuss current events, they know what year it is, and depending upon the severity of their dementia, still live a fairly independent life.

The key is to keep things simple. Don’t ask several questions in succession. Give the person time to orient themselves to their surroundings, and help by keeping things brief, and to the point, without lots of options. At San Clemente Villas we also know that medication, lack of exercise and poor diet can contribute to memory problems that can sometimes mimic symptoms of dementia. Time and time again we have seen men and women in their mid 80’s come in to San Clemente Villas weakened and unable to remember things properly. Once they have been here for even a short while, the good meals, sound nutrition, company of others and exercise will in almost every case cause a turn around in mental faculties that is almost miraculous.

The mind and body work as one when it comes to these things. The less a person talks and interacts with others, the harder it becomes to do it. If the body is not getting the nutrition it needs, things slowly start to work less efficiently.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Dementia or Alzheimers

As we reach a certain age, our bodies start to wear out and shut down. We have been told in the past that due to years of wear and tear, plus genetics, we will begin to experience different physical ailments varying from back problems and decreased mobility, to memory loss, such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The prevalent theory was these were inevitable signs of old age. But what they told us was wrong. New research shows that many of the symptoms we all thought were signs of aging are reversible with changes in diet and exercise.

At San Clemente Villas, our staff regularly holds classes where we play games that strengthen  memory. We know first-hand these types of activities help our Seniors with cognition. We  strongly encourage our people to keep active by offering  activities like exercise, walking, singing, dancing, swimming, which are fun for anyone, and all of which contribute to stronger bodies and minds.

Still, even with all of this, dementia or Alzheimer’s can set in. While there are meds that can help, and activities both physical and mental will also help, there is not a cure.

Dementia is a phrase used to describe the symptoms of Alzheimer’s instead of a separate disorder. So, if your doctor  informs you that  you or your family member is experiencing a bit of dementia, he means you have early warning signs of Alzheimer’s.  Do not take it lightly. These signs are there to help you prepare for the coming struggle you will have to work through, either yourself or with a family member.

There are as many as 5.3 million Americans that live with Alzheimer’s. Many of them over the age of 70. Think about how long we as human beings have expanding our own lifespan in such a short amount of time. Imagine what the future will bring in terms of increasing healthy living. If we can make progress then living to a ripe old age will be something to look forward to.



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

San Clemente Villas & Me

When I am out and about in the community, or anywhere else for that matter, people who I meet for the first time often  what I do. I proudly tell them that I am a co-owner of San Clemente Villas by the Sea in San Clemente, Orange County, CA. When they ask what it is, I tell them it’s many things.

 For a number of people, it is home. To the families who visit our residents, it’s peace of mind that a loved one is in a warm and inviting retirement community with the best in assisted living. It’s a place that my husband Paul and I choose to share with the communities of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point California.

It is true that we offer several different floor plans for people who can still live fairly independent lives. We also have our Alzheimer’s wing for the men and women who need constant care and supervision. We have a pool, a full service dining room, a movie room, hair salon and activity area, all for our people. Don’t want a big meal? That’s not problem, we have a sandwich and soup bar. There are a variety of activities that our people may choose to participate in, or they can take our shuttle bus down to the San Clemente Pier, walk the boardwalk at the beach and just watch the waves roll in.

San Clemente Villas is also a vibrant member of our community in South Orange County. At the Villas, we hold fundraisers for Alzheimer’s, for the Boys and Girls Clubs, Chamber Mixers and for the animal shelter. We sponsor local car shows and other community events. At every opportunity we open our doors and invite people in. It is our goal to live every day to its fullest, and to encourage our residents and their families to enjoy it here. This Christmas we even held an event that let people celebrate their pets by having a photo taken with Santa Claus. As often as possible we have music and dancing, bingo and chorale. We celebrate life every day.

To see some of the activities and events, visit our You Tube site, or better yet, keep checking back here to see what the upcoming events are!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s


Is your parent, aunt or uncle in the early stages of Alzheimer’s? How do you know? Do you suspect it because your formerly active and engaging family member is having trouble putting a sentence together?

Is he or she forgetting things more often than they did a few months ago? Do they get agitated easily? All of these signs can be a warning that dimentia or Alzheimer’s is coming on.

Listed below are the more common symptoms that something is wrong beyond just normal aging:

”Mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms checklist of common symptoms to help recognize the warning signs of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease:
 Memory Loss and Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
What’s Normal Aging? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.

Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks Because It Could Be Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s disease
People with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps needed to prepare a meal, place a telephone call, or play a game.
 What’s Normal Aging? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say.

 Problems with Language May Be a Sign of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s disease
People with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may not be able to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “that thing for my mouth.”
 What’s Normal Aging? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

 Disorientation to Time and Place Due to Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
People with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhoods, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
 What’s Normal Aging? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.

Poor or Decreased Judgment Due to Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
Those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day, or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment about money, like giving away large sums to telemarketers.
 What’s Normal Aging? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.

Problems with Abstract Thinking–Is It Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease?
Someone with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are and how they should be used.
What’s Normal Aging? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.

 Misplacing Things–a Sign of Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
A person with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron might go in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
What’s Normal Aging? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.

Changes in Mood or Behavior in Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease Patients
Someone with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
 What’s Normal Aging? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.

Changes in Personality Due to Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
The personalities of people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on a family member.
What’s Normal Aging? People’s personalities do change somewhat with age.

 Loss of Initiative Due to Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
A person with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual, or not wanting to do usual activities.
What’s Normal Aging? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.”

From The Comfort of HomeTM for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Guide for Caregivers, CareTrust Publications © 2008

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Comfort of the Past

Aileen told me a story that dovetails nicely into this one. She welcomed a new resident a few months ago into the San Clemente Villas, her sons told Aileen a story about how, in her previous place of residence this woman was very well cared for, but she was not engaged in every day activity. Because of that, she was losing cognitive functions and was barely able to walk. At San Clemente Villas the staff encouraged her to join in on some of the many activities, to go on outings, kick her feet a bit in the pool. As we were chatting, we saw her zipping by with some of her friends, pushing her walker and laughing.

Enjoy this story by Karen:

The Comfort of the Past

By Karen Everett Watson – Gerontologist


Long before I ever thought about going into the study of aging, I was fascinated by elder’s stories. I was a young mother when one of our church’s elderly widows was placed in a “rest home.” Granny Owen was a pillar in the church. She always opened her home and her cupboards for anyone who wished to visit. Her voice still carried the southern twang she acquired as a child while living in Missouri. She might have been all of five feet tall with white hair she kept in a tight knot. Her glasses were so thick they amplified her light blue eyes to a seemingly enormous size.

Her family had noticed her increasing dementia and decided it was time for her to be cared for around the clock. Back then, rest homes were nearly the only alternative in senior housing. She greeted me with a two-handed shake and her warm smile as she looked me over. I’m really not sure if she knew who I was, even though we had known each other for decades.

She seemed a bit on edge and as she walked me to her room, I found out the reason why. Her two roommates were unresponsive and bed ridden. Granny had taken care of her home and yard up until the day she had left it. Work was just a part of who she was and caring for others was as natural to her as breathing. I asked her about her roommates and she said, “Oh, I can’t get ‘em to talk. I try to help ‘em but they both are not doing good at all.” Looking back, it makes me very thankful that rest homes have improved over time.

We both sat down and began to chat. I asked her how she was doing and was very surprised to hear her response. “Well, there’s lots to do,” she said. “My man will be home soon and he’ll be hungry. He works so hard. I gotta get his supper made.” Her husband had been dead for many years but he was still alive to her. “The twins needa changin’ and I gotta get some fire wood to start supper.” The twins she was talking about were older than my own parents.

I was fascinated by her story and her unyielding belief that she was a young mother waiting for her husband to come back. I asked her where she was.

“Why, were on the way to Californy,” she said. “It’s been kinda rough traveling, but we’ll get there.” She took me right along with her on that journey to California and to her youth. To me she had always seemed “old” but now I saw her differently. She was a young mother and wife who was working hard to make sure her family was cared for. I instinctively understood that going back to a time when she had her family and so much purpose gave her comfort and a way to cope with an environment she couldn’t understand.

She didn’t last much longer. I feel very blessed that somehow I had the sense not to “set her straight.” What a wonderful gift she gave me to share her past.

We all need to be understood. Respect and acceptance are good medicine for all of us.  For dementia patients, I believe it is imperative that they be able to share their own realities. Maybe if we “visit” them where they are, the present world will not seem as threatening to them.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather