Summer Fun in San Clemente, CA


Ocean Festival.Org

5K Ocean Run, Ocean Festival, San Clemente

All of our South Orange County cities try to make summer a special time for  their residents. There are  free concerts in the park on Friday nights in Laguna Niguel, and on Sundays in Dana Point. San Clemente has a few beach concerts in the summer, and they also have their Annual Ocean Festival on July 18th & 19th. [Read more…]

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The Refreshing Beauty of Nature

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to the natural world. The sight of a bird in flight or the trees budding out in the spring just seemed to refresh something deep inside of me. If you’re like me, sometimes our lives just get so busy that we forget to connect to the beauty of an ordinary day. I try my best to make a point of looking for the wonders that are just outside my window, but sometimes I forget to give myself the time to appreciate all that nature has to hold.

The beauty of nature

Our elders need this connection. How many of your older loved ones enjoy feeding the wild birds or making sure the bird bath is filled. For those elders who have lost some of their mobility or are suffering from an illness, it’s harder to get out and be “refreshed.”

A friend of mine helped take care of his ailing grandmother. She was bedfast and couldn’t get outside where she loved to garden and watch the birds. He’s a thoughtful soul and bought her a new feeder for the birds that he placed just outside her bedroom window. She found immense pleasure in watching each little bird come right to her window. 

Perhaps more than anything, the feeling of the mist coming off the ocean makes me stop and behold how the beauty of this world is so amazing. I was born near it, so perhaps I have a special connection to it. But I really think most people find peace and wonder at the ocean’s side. 

I have special memories of the Pacific Ocean.  When I was very young, my parents would take me down to beaches near our Southern California home so I could look for shells and feel the sand beneath my feet. Back then, it wasn’t easy to get down to the beach. Many times my daddy would carry me down the narrow winding trails that came down from the jagged cliffs. 

I know you all have your own special memories of the ocean and other natural wonders. If you are a care giver, then I encourage you to make time for these natural connections. Find ways of sharing nature with your older loved one. You both will be refreshed and we all deal better with life’s ups and downs when we feed our souls.


Tips on Ways to Share Nature with Your Older Loved One –

  1. Take a trip to a botanical garden
  2. Place a bird feeder outside of the kitchen window
  3. Plan a picnic at a favorite park
  4. Have lunch at an outdoor restaurant
  5. Give them a photo album of family outdoor vacations
  6. Fill a pot with butterfly and humming bird favorites for their patio
  7. While visiting, go for a walk
  8. Bring them a bouquet of their favorite flowers
  9. Get a large print of one of their favorite outdoor places
  10. Take them on a boat tour of a harbor or lake

 By Karen Everett Watson – Gerontologist



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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?

communications with seniorsI 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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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

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The Lasting Joys of Close Kin

the importance of family

Momma & her Twin

By Karen Everett Watson

It seems the older I get, the more I enjoy thinking about my childhood experiences. Growing up as an only child, the ultimate for me was spending time with my cousins. Since my mother had six brothers and five sisters, I had a multitude of cousins to enjoy.

For many years my mother’s twin sister lived just a few miles from us and her daughter, my cousin Jeannie, was just two weeks younger than myself. Because we were so close in both age and proximity, my cousin was more like a sister to me than a cousin. And if you have a sister you know what sisters do? Yep, there were fights. As babies, we fought over everything. It usually involved a hairbrush. I haven’t the slightest idea why we fought over hair brushes. Neither one of us had any hair at the time.

Me and Jeannie Ann Carr

Karen & Jeannie Ann

While fighting was a big part of our activities, we still preferred to play together. Jeannie was adventuresome and she always had three or four ideas ready to go. At four she decided to be a hair stylist. First she trimmed my bangs then her baby brother’s hair. Last of all she trimmed her own. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. At five she decided to make her own sandwich which in and of itself is not big deal, but in her case, it involved climbing into the cabinets next to the stove. I was in the living room when she emerged triumphantly with her sandwich masterpiece held in one hand and flames were going up the back of her dress all the way above her head. Did I mention it was a gas stove? Her momma started chasing her and I tried to stay out of the way. She ended up rolled in the living room rug. Amazingly she was unharmed.

My summers were spent in the heart of Oklahoma. Both sets of grandparents lived there and it was the only vacation destination for all my childhood summers. My momma’s mother lived in a little cement block house on the edge of town. It had two bedrooms and one bathroom. It was tiny by anyone’s standards, but when summer came, it held over thirty of my relatives. All the cousins slept of the floor. Our pallets stretched from the front door to the kitchen door at the back of the house. Getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night involved careful placement of one’s feet. Somehow we all survived and couldn’t have been happier in a five star hotel. After all, there wasn’t a chef alive that could compete with my granny’s cooking!

I loved listening to my momma and her siblings talk about their years growing up. There was the time she finally convinced her twin sister to try the rope swing next to the creek. I think you can probably guess how that turned out. Then there was the story of the pet crow that liked shiny things, including matches. Those matches happened to be on top of granny’s sewing machine, along with all the material for her girls’ school dresses. The crow survived the neck wringing from granny. The material did not. Some of their stories almost hurt to listen to. My mother and her siblings never had a lunch to take with them, but Granny always had dinner waiting for them when they got off the bus.

Without my cousins, my aunts, my uncles and grannies, I would have been a very lonely child. They filled my life with fun, adventure, and memories I will never lose. They connected me to my roots. They taught me where I came from and more importantly who I was. As a teenager, my Aunt Glory made sure I could spend a portion of my summer lounging by her pool. Her daughter, my cousin Linda was grown by then. She’d take me wherever my heart desired. We window shopped on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. We visited Ports o’ Call and Disneyland and nearly every beach in Southern California. She taught me the fun of macramé and I carried the purse she taught me to make for years to come. She continues to be a gift of life – a gift of family.

I so appreciate the connection with all these “close kin.” They enriched my life beyond measure just by spending time with me. How long has it been since you called your brother, sister, or one of your cousins? Don’t lose touch – they’re treasure to cherish all through life. And ask your older loved ones about their close kin. It will lift both your hearts!

Aileen Brazeau



San Clemente CA, senior living, fundraising, charities, Dana Point, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano






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December Events with Aileen and SC Villas !

December is a very busy month for myself, my San Clemente Villas and my family. I love to entertain,  Paul and I feel very strongly about contributing to charities in our local community. It’s not enough simply to donate, we like to create events. This way people get something special out of it, and our local charities get donations!!

These events aren’t  simply for myself and the charities, though, they are  for my residents as well. The Holidays can be a wonderful time of the year, but for elder family members whose sons and daughters live far away, it can be a tough time as well.  We try to make certain they have plenty of events to look forward to. On top of that we open many of those events to our local community. It’s not just the same people they see every day.

On December 8th, the Pet Photos Day with Santa was a great success. The Families who came to have their photos done loved it, and our residents got a  big kick out of it as well.


Photos with Santa aren’t just for kids and Pets !!


  1. Photos with Santa aren’t just for kids and pets, we grown ups like our time with Santa as well. Here is one of our people getting her Christmas wish list in with Santa Clause. You are never too old for Santa!!





What else is on the schedule at San Clemente Villas?

 On Dec. 11th, I am hosting an Alzheimer Family dinner for the residents and their families.

  1. Dec. 17th,  San Clemente Villas will have a  Lasagne Dinner with  Entertainment by a someone who has entertained for us before, with great success. He is called  “The OC Elvis”
  2. Dec. 18th, I am hosting a Family  Casino Night, Crap Tables, Roulette Table, 4 Black Jack tables, 1 Texas Hold em Poker table.

These are the events we already hosted in December: the most successful one was our Pet Photo Day: it was featured in the OC Register, and our activities director Barbara did a really sweet video for us; click here to see it

To see the article in the OC Register:

  • Dec. 1st, San Clemente Villas hosted Kids with Santa Photos for the residents and local children:



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The Comfort of the Past

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.

The Comfort of the Past


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.

By Karen Everett Watson – Gerontologist



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Promoting Memory Care

Aileen Brazeau recently hosted a community discussion on the subject of  Memory Enhancement Programs for seniors.

The discussion was led by  Gerontologist Jane L. Mahakian, PhD, MFT,  previous director of Elder Care Programs at the University of California, San Francisco, and CEO/founder of Aging Matters, Inc.  Topics of discussions included the differences between normal memory Jane-Mahakian-PhD speaks at San Clemente Villaschanges, mild cognitive impairment and early-stage dementia.

 A support group continues to meet the last Thursday of each month at San Clemente Villas to share news and ideas, and to learn more about the different levels of memory loss and dementia, and ways to detect them.  The support group invites care givers, relatives, and those concerned about their own memory skills; to gather information from geriatric experts on hand and receive  input from thought leaders about modern dementia identification tools/ treatments.

The event coincided with the new Memory Enhancement Program being offered to residents at the Villas’ deluxe assisted care community.  The conversation served to underscore  how the Villas new “Memory Enhancement Program” (MEP) incorporates state-of-the-art methods.

Participating MEP residents of the Villas attend daily memory improvement classes, conducted by Coordinator Diana Sanchez, that are loaded with cues and reminders. These provoke those residents to keep their minds and bodies in motion to help Memory Care at San Clemente Villasthem remain as independent as possible as long as possible.

“There are classes, twice a day, covering virtually any kind of cognitive deficiency,” says Dr. Mahakian. “You want those in MEP, even ones with mild cognitive impairment, to be as regularly stimulated as often as possible.  It is so true that using a mind helps forestall losing a mind.”

Individual supportive counseling is provided for each participant, weekly testing is done to verify progress being made, and there are monthly support groups for residents and families.

This program is another example of Aileen’s  commitment toward enhancing the experience of the senior citizens in our world.


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