The Importance of Music

Music programs at Aileen Brazeua's San Clemente VillasFor some, economic recovery has begun, for others struggles remain. Our Orange County schools are among those who are dealing with cutbacks to sports and music programs. In much of South Orange County parents have stepped in to keep programs going in schools where there have been cutbacks. In other, poorer neighborhoods, where parents are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet, there was little to nothing left over for extracurricular activities.

Some schools are just this year beginning to plan for the reinstatement of music programs in their schools and more are feeling hopeful with the vigorous, healthy real estate market and some job recovery, they will be able to once again fund their music and sports programs.

As someone who works with people, I will tell you that being involved in music programs can literally change lives, no matter what age. It even makes a big difference in the lives of those you would not think would affect.

For children and teens, no matter what their economic status, music is a form of self expression, a way to get lost in something beautiful, and for many, a path to self esteem. Seniors love their music as well. It brings them together, for some, the songs bring back fond memories, and just the sheer joy of singing or playing an instrument lights people up and fills their souls. I know I sound dramatic, but if you watch people when they play an instrument or sing, you can see it. You can see their countenance change, their posture, and the looks of happiness on their faces. Our residents light up when local musicians come and play for them, and the musicians themselves are always thrilled at the appreciation and applause they receive after a performance at the Villas!!

Aileen Brazeau

Aileen At Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day 2012

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Children and Seniors


seniors and children Aileen Brazeau San Clemente Vilas

If you visit San Clemente Villas you will see children running through our hallways more often than not. We love to have our residents Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren come to visit. Their visits bring joy to their immediate family members and they also fill our halls with laughter and the energy that only the young have.

We do all sorts of outings and activities at the Villas, but seeing the same people day in and day out can sometimes get a little ho hum, visits from children do so much to change that feeling. There is nothing that compares to their smiles and delight at the little things. The icing on the cake is  visits from these sweet children will stir up memories for people. Memories that can be delightful and cause the residents to chat amongst themselves about bringing up their own children, and sometimes even reminiscing about their own childhoods.

There are some facilities which are now combining Senior Care and Day Care, and it is making a huge impact on the lives of both the children and the seniors.

I did some research, and actually came across an organization called SKIP. This organization has a mission to bring children and seniors together in order to enhance their lives. This coming together of children and seniors is beneficial to the elders, and sometimes it also makes a big difference in the life of children.

With so many parents working multiple jobs just to get by these days, sometimes the time a young child spends each week with a Seniors citizen is the only place that child gets unconditional love and attention, praise and the chance to feel truly special to someone. Because the seniors have already raised their own children, their time with these little visitors is more about fun than it is about discipline, so everyone gets to have fun.

Aileen Brazeau

Aileen At Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day 2012


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Clearing out the Clutter

Clearing the clutter, Aileen Brazeau San Clemente VillasEach year when the weather changes in certain parts of the country, people move their winter clothes out of the closet and start moving their spring and summer clothes in. Back in the old days we would also take the heavy winter curtains off the windows and put up the light, billowy sheers. It was both literal and symbolic. The cold, dark, heaviness of winter was shut away and the lightness of spring and summer was welcomed. Each year, as we put away the heavy darkness, we cleaned, hence the name Spring Cleaning.

Although the weather doesn’t go through the same drastic fluctuations here in California that some parts of the country experience, it still get’s cooler during the winter months, we wear heavier clothing and we get winter time clutter in our homes, and some of us even let things pile up a bit in our offices. Even here, in Southern California, some of us perform the soothing and cleansing tasks of spring cleaning.

In honor of the start of the spring season I have some things to share. Five things you can do to spring clean your office and career:

  1. Clearly state your goals for the next few months and state how you intend to achieve them
  2. Remove any clutter that would impede your progress, that includes excess papers and files on your desk, and any clutter or negative thought that is running through your mind as well.
  3. Put away anything you don’t need and try running with a cleaner, simpler schedule that removes some of the making busy tasks and leaves time for meeting with friends, working out, spending time with family.
  4. Take those heavy curtains off your windows and let in the cool breezes!! Then go see the flower fields in Carlsbad California and fill your mind with the scent, color and exquisite beauty of nature.
  5. Read or watch something inspirational.

Aileen Brazeau

San Clemente Villas

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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



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How Much Sleep do Seniors Need?

pets for companyI was told that as we age we need less sleep. I must tell you that the truth is this. As we age we sleep less, but that doesn’t mean we need less sleep. Yes, our bodies are no longer changing and growing like a teenager.  Well, okay, they are growing and changing, that is still true, just not in the same way a youngsters body is.

The National Institutes of Health has put forth the proposition that older adults need 7 to 9 hours sleep, just like everyone else.  The fact that as we age our sleep tends to get interrupted more frequently with trips to the restroom, and just less REM sleep overall.  Brain function can become impaired at any age when we don’t give our minds and bodies enough rest and exercise. So I think it’s important to do the following:

  1. Find a way to ease aches and pains before retiring for the night, perhaps a warm bath, or a cup of tea
  2. If you are prone to leg pain, find just the right type of pillow to place between your knees
  3. Get plenty of exercise during the day, it’s good for your brain and will help you to sleep better
  4. If your mind gets restless when you lie in bed, try soothing music as a background for your sleep
  5. Dance whenever you can. Even if it’s by yourself at home. Dancing releases endorphins, and music makes us happy, when we feel happy and relaxed we sleep better.
  6. If you get really sleepy in the middle of the day, don’t be afraid to take a short nap. There are some people who have more trouble sleeping when they get overtired.

So remember, no matter how old we are we need our sleep…


Aileen Brazeau



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When is it time for assisted living?

Is maintaining a home getting to be too much? Are you or your loved one having trouble walking and dressing? Is your appetite not what it used to be? Maybe driving a car is no longer an option. Keeping your medications straight, how much to take and when, too hard to keep track of? Have many of your friends moved away or passed on?

creative art for seniors with dimentia



If more than two of these things are happening to you a loved one or a family member, then it could be time to give us a call. We would be happy to arrange a tour, and depending upon your interests, have you come at a time when a specific activity will be taking place.

We here at San Clemente Villas understand that Assisted Living might not be for everyone, but I just want to share something with you. Time and time again, children have come to us, distressed that their Mom, Dad, Aunt or Uncle is in decline. Once they come to stay with us, more often than not, their verbal skills improve dramatically. Their physical well-being is much better because they are eating better. Any signs of depression subside as they start to chat with the other residents, participate in activities, dance, sing, and swim or go on outings. The importance of socialization for any person cannot be stressed enough. In Seniors it can mean the difference between life and death.


Aileen Brazeau


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Holiday Time Brings It’s Own Challenges

Don's 100th Birthday 2When you are getting ready to celebrate for the holidays, there are special considerations for dealing with elderly family members. If your loved ones are beginning to experience memory loss, if they have recently lost a loved one, the Holidays can be a challenge for them. It is something we face here at the Villas every year. We have found that it is best to not try too hard to cheer them up. Let them have their quiet moments, But it’s also important to gently nudge them into participating in at least some of the Christmas traditions and activities.

Sometimes the best thing for them is children. Or story telling. Instead of hustle and bustle, try to make time to just sit quietly and listen while they tell you about some of their favorite Christmases past. Bring out some special photos from the past and start a story, but if they can’t bring up a memory, don’t pressure them, that will simply make things worse.

I ran across this post in Seniors Living that mirrored many of my experiences dealing with seniors here at the villas, and in my own life. Be gentle, be considerate, and be thoughtful. Someday you are going to be their age if you get lucky to live long enough, treat them the way you would like to be treated. Take a look at this excerpt:

  1. Plan ahead. If older family members tire easily or are vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the number of activities they are involved in or the length of time they are included. The noise and confusion of a large family gathering can lead to irritability or exhaustion, so schedule time for a nap, if necessary, and consider designating a “quiet room” where an older person can take a break. “Assign someone to be the day’s companion to the older person, to make sure the individual is comfortable,” says Daniel Sewell, M.D., director of the Senior Behavior Health Unit at the UCSD Medical Center, who adds that these guidelines work well for young children as well as adults with mental, emotional and physical health issues. 
  2. Eliminate obstacles. If a holiday get-together is held in the home of an older person with memory impairment or behavioral problems, don’t rearrange the furniture. This could be a source of confusion and anxiety. If the gathering is in a place unfamiliar to an older person, remove slippery throw rugs and other items that could present barriers to someone with balance problems or who has difficulty walking.”

This is all helpful information, and I invite you to head over to this site to read the rest of their post. But most of all simply remember this: Cherish the time you spend with your Mom, Dad, Grandma, Auntie, Grandpa or Uncle. Treat them with love and respect, and most of the time that will make a better holiday for all of you.

Merry Christmas..

Aileen Brazeau



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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



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How To Make Their Day!!

Karen just wrote a guest blog post for us on a subject  which deserves a little more attention. My staff and I at San Clemente Villas know first hand the joy that visits and interactions with family members and children bring. And it’s not only the joy that family members get, it spreads to every member of our community and our staff.

We make certain that our people have access to hobbies, crafts, music, dancing and exercise programs. They have shopping trips, we hold events here on a regular basis, invite the community in and our residents are always excited and happy to have the fresh faces show up in our lobby.Children Visiting

Those are all good things. But there is something about the laughter and joy a small child brings into out place that I can’t even describe to you. You just have to see the faces of our people, the soft smiles that begin to spread over every ones faces. The children, running by, looking for their Great Auntie, or Grandpa. The teenagers, some of whom aren’t all that excited to be here, but who eventually crack a smile when somebody tells a joke or gives them a complement.

People who have visitors have status. They proudly introduce the visiting family member to all of their San Clemente Villas friends and our staff. And those visitors who take the time to stop for a moment and engage with the other residents are often surprised at how much fun they have talking to these “older” people.

Somehow, in our society, we relegate people to roles based upon their appearance. People who have aged sometimes have poor posture, wrinkles and age spots. We forget that those same people were business owners, pioneers in the field, teachers, doctors, artists and performers. Taking a minute to talk to each other enriches all who become involved in the conversation.

So, put aside your worries about the perfect gift, the perfect Holiday Dinner, and just buy a box of their favorite candy, bake some cupcakes, bring a DVD of a favorite old movie and just spend some time..You can buy all that other stuff, but you can never buy more time. Spread the joy, and it will come back to you..

Aileen Brazeau

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What’s Happening at the Villas?

Here at the San Clemente Villas, we celebrate life. In October we celebrated the 100th birthday of our resident Don:, we hosted Oktoberfest and Paul, residents, staff and guests celebrated our 11th year is a snapshot:

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