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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Santa Parade in San Clemente

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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.

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