Organization: San Clemente Villas by the Sea
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Aileen Brazeau’s passion for senior housing was sparked when, in the early 1990's, she and her husband, Paul, invested in a continuing care facility for seniors in La Jolla. But, she wasn’t satisfied with just being part of the ownership team – she actually lived there for a while to really get an idea of how to run a community of that sort. Then, she and Paul decided to open their own place and developed San Clemente Villas by the Sea. Aileen has always loved and respected her elders, ever since the time when she was young and her grandmother came to live with them. She actually was a caregiver for her grandmother, and even though there was a bit of a language barrier, they got by.
Why should this person be nominated
Aileen is a sparkle girl – from her eyes, to her smiles, to her outfits, and especially her heart – she sparkles, and the residents feel it. Her love for what she does and who she serves is so genuine. For the first 2 years that the Villas were open, Aileen would take the 20 residents living at there out to eat at their favorite Chinese place – her treat! Of course, as her place filled up, it became impossible to continue doing that, but she invests in her clients in many other ways.
Aileen shared, “I am passionate about, and dedicated to, my work with seniors. Everyone here cherishes the opportunity to care for such vibrant and exciting people. When some folks look upon the older men and women around them, they simply see older people. We see human beings who have lived through huge changes in society, and important periods in our American History. We love hearing the stories about interesting careers, families, travels and what part they played in history: what they have experienced firsthand. We are honored they have chosen us as their home.”
Because she wants to make sure everyone is receiving special attention, Aileen developed the practice of having each of her staff have one particular client that they “buddy up” with. They get to know them on a deeper level than just providing daily care, and this allows everyone to truly feel like family. Aileen’s buddy is a 91 year old gentleman who used to be a hiker and nature lover, and very physically active. So, Aileen takes him on nature walks, where he points out the beautiful things that many of us gloss over. She takes him to Costco so he can go to all the tasting stations, and she often can be seen just sitting and asking him to tell her stories of his life.
Everything Aileen does is with a focus on providing the fullest lives possible to her guests. One person told us, “I am so privileged to say that Aileen Brazeau is my friend. I've never known such a giving person - if it within her means to help, she will. She’s been sponsoring a bus to transport seniors to an event called the “Senior Prom” for 5 years. She knows that one of her residents whom everyone calls ‘Dancing Chris’ would be so disappointed to miss it.”
She knows the seniors living at the Villas are still very much involved in the local community, and she is focused on giving them every opportunity to be out and about. Whether it be a day at the Pier, a boat trip, or just a walk in the park, our residents have the opportunity to be as active as they choose.
Aileen doesn’t have to do any of these lovely things – as an owner, she could just sit at home and relax, or go out with friends every day. But, her love for seniors just won’t allow her to do that. And so, she goes and visits her “family,” showing them love and showering them with attention. And we know that, to them, she’s a hero.