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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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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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.

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Overlooked and not often considered are the remarkable caregivers who tend to older family members in need. From the outside looking in, it isn’t readily apparent how much these caregivers do.  At San Clemente Villas we have trained professionals to watch over family members, and it can even take a toll on them.So what do you do for the caregiver in your family? If your dad is the caregiver for your mom, give him a break once a week–at least. Look, I know we are all busy, but this is important to do. Chances are that you or your siblings will end up being caregivers to both of your parents if you do not provide occasional relief to the one shouldering the care.

If you are not local and you can’t relieve the caregiver, hire someone to help, or call the church they belong to and ask if there is someone who could help out here and there.

So many times, parents fight to hold on to the right to stay in their own homes, to be independent; nevertheless, urge them gently toward the concept of living in a retirement community. As they age, your parents will lose more of their friends to old age and illness. They can become isolated and depressed. A living situation like San Clemente Villas can offer them so much. Then the caregiver can focus more on your parents’ quality of life and everyone will be happier . . .

First of all, professionals monitor medication. Secondly, activities like swimming, art, excursions and group discussions can keep spirits up and minds sharp. We have seen it time and time again when a family member comes to an environment like ours and begins to thrive once again. Sometimes it is as simple as having people to share things with.

One of our seniors loves to sew and she makes aprons and other special items that she then shares with the other seniors and our staff. It keeps her busy and she feels wonderful when people praise and enjoy the work she has done. Everyone likes to feel necessary and useful. Remember, just because someone has a few wrinkles, it doesn’t change who they are on the inside. Those who are physically active, mentally engaged, and have activities to look forward to fare much better than those who do not stay active.

As for the caregiver, give them time to replenish and feel appreciated–give them praise and thanks for what they do for your family member!

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The Magical Joy of Children

Have you ever noticed how your elder’s eyes light up when a child they love enters the room? Children and elders just seemed to have a magical connection. It’s a connection that deserves to be cultivated and a way for you to give joy to your elderly loved one. Children seemed to be drawn to elders. Perhaps they know that older people have so much to give. One thing that elders are happy to give children is their time. In a hurry and rushed world, that is truly a gift. 

The Magical Joy of Children

Do you remember your childhood visits with your elderly loved ones? I think most of us have cherished memories of spending time with our grannies and granddads. I looked forward to every summer because it meant going for a visit to see the grandparents.  

Aging experts are catching on to this great connection. Many are now advocating programs that bring elders and children together. Gerontologists call it “inter-generational connections.” Decades ago, grandparents often lived with their grandchildren and sometimes, even with their great-grandchildren. It makes you wonder just how much our children and elders are missing because they don’t have this time to connect.


The love of so many activities has been fostered through the connection with an aging loved one. How many of us learned to garden, knit, fish, or cook due to the patience and love of an elder? All of us have the need to give and be needed. Seniors value being able to impart the wisdom they’ve earned. Children need that wisdom and connection with older people. It’s a win-win situation.


I’ve experienced firsthand the joy, and perhaps even the healing that children can bring to older folks. My first grandchild was born just before my daddy had to have cancer surgery. Our fears were overwhelming. Daddy is the cornerstone of our family. The only bright light there was during those hard days was Punky. My daughter would bring him to the hospital, so small he was still swaddled in blankets. His bright blue eyes would just make me melt. It truly was magic to watch the pain and dread disappear from my daddy’s eyes when Tara would lay Punky on his bed. I know God sent Punky to give my whole family the hope and joy he brought to our lives. That was 10 years ago. Daddy survived and Punky has thrived. They still have a special connection.


Elders have so much to give to children – their wisdom, patience, love and acceptance. The joy that children bring to elders just cannot be matched. I encourage you to bring that joy to your elderly loved ones. You’ll be facilitating life-long memories, for both the elder and the child. I just imagine that you’ll have a great time, too. Don’t forget to bring out the camera and make these memories last!


Tips for things to do with elders and children –

  1. Have a Tea Party
  2. Go fishing
  3. Draw, paint or color in a coloring book
  4. Look through old photos
  5. Decorate cookies
  6. Plant a pot with flowers or veggies
  7. Read a book
  8. Play checkers
  9. Blow bubbles
  10. Fly a Kite


By Karen Everett Watson– Gerontologist

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