Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

A Q & A with Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare

You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice  Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.

Depositphotos 6596764 xl 2015That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.

In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.

Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?

Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.

Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?

A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.

Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?

A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.

Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?

A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.

Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?

A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.


IMG 8524For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

Reno has its casinos and easy access to world class skiing nearby, Las Vegas has the neon lights, Carson City the capitol building and old silver mining fame. But bursting onto the scene is the bustling “silicon valley” of Nevada: Henderson (#WowValleyNV). Located just 16 miles from the Las Vegas strip, Henderson is a world away from the late-night parties. Focused on “a culture of opportunity,” this growing city is more interested in offering businesses a competitive advantage (Toyota Financial is located here and the NFL Raiders recently purchased 55 acres near the Henderson Executive Airport for its new corporate headquarters) and attracting families with its standout schools, an abundance of entertainment, dining and recreation options rather than than 24 straight hours of gambling (although they have plenty of gaming options as well).

Lion Habitat RanchLion Habitat Ranch

With a burgeoning start-up culture, the city made MONEY’s Best Places to Live 2018, for the wealth of planned suburban communities surrounded by golf courses, movie theatres, greenbelt parkways, and a population just pressing on 320,000. But it isn’t just attracting newcomers to settle down - folks who want to drop in, grab a local brew, and get outside have an abundance of outdoor opportunities to choose from. The Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam, Lake Las Vegas and the 34-mile River Mountains Loop Trail. That’s not even touching on the Cowabunga Bay Water Park (open during the summer months and opens again as Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town from the end of November to December 31st each year) and the Lion Habitat Ranch (lionhabitatranch.org) - the big cat sanctuary that provides a loving home to rescued lions (and emus, ostriches, macaws and Ozzie, Las Vegas’ first and only "giraffe-ic artist”).

Originally established for the lions related to the original MGM lions, habitat owner, designer and trainer Keith Evans acquired the sprawling 6.5-acre ranch in 1989 with the mission of “providing a loving home for all the lions in our care for the rest of their natural lives.” After the contracts with MGM expired, the nonprofit lion sanctuary opened to the public to view the lions and other animals. Voted by TripAdvisor as the No. 1 thing to do in Henderson, the Lion Habitat Ranch is now home to a number of the gorgeous big cats, including Barbary lions which have been extinct in the wild since the 1940s.

image1Upon paying a nominal admission, guests can wander the grounds to view the magnificent creatures in their enclosures. Our family wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for an even more up close and personal interaction with these amazing animals so we opted for a private “Behind the Scenes" guided tour, including a Q & A with a professional trainer (Sam is worthy of a special mention - super knowledgable and great with kids, she clearly loves her job … and the lions love her) to learn about how the ranch operates and meet some of its rescued residents (and take all the photos and video we wanted). It was a great learning experience and an unforgettable adventure for our entire family, particularly our kids, ages 10 and 11 …although I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me. I texted all my mom friends video clips and still shots to show their kiddos throughout the afternoon so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ranch experiences an influx of OC families in the near future.

As a nonprofit, the Lion Habitat Ranch relies on generous donations from private individuals and businesses - the annual feed of just one lion costs approximately $10,000 a year for a male lion while his female counterpart consumes about $8,000 in meat annually.

In the summer, Cowabunga Bay Water Park (cowabungabayvegas.com) attracts both locals and visitors alike for its water slides, children’s attractions, food and shopping opportunities. But in the winter, the park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland decorated with over three million sparkling lights and filled with holiday decorations, spectacular light displays, family-friendly winter activities (think Polar Express train, Jingle Bell Sledding Hill and Santa’s Cozy Cottage) and delicious holiday-inspired seasonal food and drink.

Maverick HelicopterMaverick Helicopter

My husband and son are something of adrenaline junkies, while my daughter and I are a little more cautious adventurers. I like to think I have a “healthy” fear of heights and I’m not the best air traveler. I fly because it’s the fastest way to get places, unlike my husband, who has his pilot’s license and hopes our 11-year-old son will develop this father’s love of flight. Having said that, we booked what might just be the “hottest entertainment ticket” in town - a Maverick Helicopter (maverickhelicopter.com) night flight aboard the ECO-Star helicopter over the Las Vegas Strip. We took off out of McCarran International Airport for an experience that couldn’t have been more memorable … or easier. The company sent a driver to pick us up at our hotel for a truly unique “limousine of the sky” perspective of the "Entertainment Capital of the World.”

IMG E0771

The "Vegas Nights Tour” is an amazing Las Vegas helicopter experience flying over the megaresorts of the Las Vegas Strip from the New York-New York skyline and the Bellagio fountains to the never-fading light of the Luxor pyramid and unparalleled views of Downtown Las Vegas’ historic Fremont Street, home to the city’s first casinos.

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for an oasis in the desert to relax for a few days, Henderson boasts in its luxury hotels - its crown jewel undoubtedly being the Mediterranean-inspired AAA Four-Diamond Green Valley Ranch Resort (greenvalleyranchresort.com). Modern luxury and perfect service await you within the beautiful resort, which opened in December 2001 as the first boutique luxury resort built off the Las Vegas Strip. In 2017, the property upped the ante with an array of large-scale renovations, including a completely reimagined all-new lobby, lobby bar, PERKS Coffee Bar and added amenities for VIP guests, along with enhanced suites. The new lobby features a separate resort entrance away from the casino floor and overlooks the property’s stunning eight-acre backyard pool area - where, I might add, our kids alternated between swimming and splashing in the “beach entry” sand bottom pool and soaking in the hot tub (the pool temperature was a little too chilly for their parents, but it certainly didn’t seem to impact the kids).

GVR StandardKing v2s

With nearly 500 rooms and suites, the Green Valley Ranch Resort offers an elegant escape from the stresses of the strip. You can bask in the pampering and relaxation of its luxury 35,000-square-foot spa and salon, get in a workout in the state-of-the-art fitness studio, or try your hand at the newest slot, video poker or table games. Great options for adults, but when traveling with the younger set, Green Valley Ranch Resort serves up no shortage of family-friendly activities and attraction. The adjacent District showcases 50 shops, eateries and a movie theater.

GVR DoubleDouble v2s

Award winning restaurants provide delicious eats to start or finish the day. Borracha features Mexican-inspired shareable plates, inventive burritos, entrees with made-from-scratch tortillas and super tasty tacos. Bottiglia offers sophisticated rustic Italian fare and herb-friendly cuisine. The Grand Cafe is open 24 hours for easy, family-friendly fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner … our son loved his fluffy “breakfast for dinner” pancakes.

Green valley ranch and casino exterior

Our Superior Double Queen room provided plenty of space to stretch out ... appointed with modern styling, thoughtful details, and comfortable accommodations. Leaving nothing to chance, the staff will ensure your stay is as relaxing and memorable as possible.

Destination Dining

For family-friendly dining, buffets are the way to go … everyone gets exactly what they want and as much of it as they can consume (which may or may not be a good thing when you’re considering your waistline). Studio B Buffet in the M Resort (themresort.com) bills itself as “more than an all-you-can-eat experience” that “makes buffet dining exciting.” I have to say this buffet featured one of the most extensive and diverse culinary offerings I have ever experienced. A huge seafood aficionado, I had my fill of delicious snow crab legs and shrimp accompanied by popular Asian specialities while my meat-eating husband made a pretty good dent in several of Studio B’s carving stations (including prime rib available every weekend). Our kids indulged in their standard favorite fare - pepperoni pizza, pasta and one or two too many sweet treats from the array of desserts created by the restaurant’s award-winning pastry chefs. I recommend perusing your options before piling your plate - there are over 300 items, including a build-your-own taco bar, dim sum, calzones, a vegan station and … wait for it … complimentary beer, wine, espresso and cappuccino to your heart’s content.

For more information, visit hendersonnow.com

Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, Backstreet Home Decor appears to be a small storefront, its windows displaying beautiful decorative items, jewelry, handbags and accessories. Step inside, however, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll discover that you could literally spend hours looking at all of owner Susan Smith's wonderful offerings, which range in style from Old World to contemporary.

IMG 0803

Each piece is reflective of Susan’s keen eye for color, quality, texture, design detail and style - a fact not lost on the scores of professional designers who regularly shop here to decorate their client’s homes.

Homeowners who have taken advantage of Susan’s in-home consultation rave that she was able to suggest just the right furniture, decor, florals and color palette to create the look they were dreaming of - a fact that I can personally - and happily - attest to.

When our family moved from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano, Susie’s showroom the first and only stop I needed to make for the decorative items and accessories that would make our new house a “home.” Susie’s vision of color, texture, line, shape, natural proportion and balance resulted in the beautiful floral arrangements and wall hangings that adorn our home, along with just the right accent and “statement pieces” to visually tie everything together.

IMG 0804

While everything in her store speaks of high quality, her prices are surprisingly affordable. Because of longstanding relationships with vendors from the top decor lines across the county, Susan is able to acquire furniture and accessories at substantial discounts - which she in turn passes along to her customers.

imgLeftNoCaption

“We only LOOK expensive,” she says. “What sets us apart is that all of our florals are custom designed on the premises. We work with our clientele to create exactly what they want. We really try to come up with the unusual - unique items that you just won’t find in every single store.”

Connect with Susie by stopping by the showroom at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, by calling (949) 498-2210 or visit www.backstreethomedecor.com

In-Home Care and the New! Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center in Laguna Woods Village

Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of studies examining the effects of stress on the human body - from the immune to metabolic systems, to cell division, diet, hormonal changes, heart rate and of course, cortisol levels. Cortisol, after all, is what floods the body in response to stress. Its main purpose is more far-reaching than was once believed. Systemic effects play a great many roles to maintain homeostasis in the body: which, at a basic level, looks like a greater span of stress-free years. Experts at UCLA, Harvard and the University of Maryland all posit that lowering stress levels leads to healthier mental and bodily functions across the board, which is great for everyone, but can be particularly meaningful for men and women of an advanced age.

Founded in 2002, the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. are dedicated to ensuring the individual care they provide will lessen the stress of everyday life for your aging loved one and their families. Between the two divisions of this Laguna Woods-based family-owned and operated business, seniors have the option of in-home care or respite at the Senior Social Club and Stay Care Center (applications are currently being accepted for participation).

In-home care

With loving kindness, trained caregivers provide exceptional general care and assist with the basic necessities of daily living in the comfort and safety of a senior’s own home. In-home care encompasses services tailored to the senior’s specific needs and range from meal preparation, medication reminders, doctor visits, grocery shopping, laundry, light housekeeping, dressing and incontinence care to Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.

“We have observed that those who are able to stay in their homes are more likely to remain healthy and free from common communicable illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia that are prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the high volume of residents and close living quarters,” says Boyd Warner, founder of Your Home Care, Inc.

DSC 2489

Understanding that the safety and security of your loved ones is of the utmost importance, the professional caregivers at Your Home Care undergo a rigorous interview process, from reference checks and background clearance to competency training. But that’s just the beginning … equally as important as each applicant’s credentials is their personal philosophy as Warner says “our caregivers want more than a job. They want to make a difference in the lives of those in their care. As a company, our job is to give caregivers the direction and tools they need to fulfill their personal mission of service, as well as our corporate mission of improving the lives of those we serve.”

We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver.

Upon meeting the company’s strict selection criteria, caregivers are insured and bonded before completing a comprehensive orientation process to ingrain Your Home Care corporate policies and procedures followed by ongoing, specialized training on issues that help them develop as better overall caregivers, as well as deal with very specific situations. These issues include medication management and compliance, Alzheimer’s and dementia, osteoarthritis and mobility loss, hypertension/stroke recovery, diabetes, heart disease and cancer recovery.

“We believe that our focus on the individual and family is what sets us apart,” says Warner. “When you contact us, you will receive individualized care that will meet the needs of your family and your aging loved one. Whether you are in need of around the clock assistance, night relief or a short shift during the day to assist with ADL’s, you can rest easy knowing that we have your well-being and that of your loved one as our priority.”


Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center

While in-home care focuses on the one-on-one, allowing trust and friendship to flourish between caretaker and patient, the Adult Day facility follows a social model in a “beautiful, warm and inviting place for seniors to gather together and create new friendships and memories.” Different from many other day centers, the licensed caregivers at Your Home Care’s “Social Club & Stay Care” Center oversee all activities and are highly interactive with each visiting senior.

“In a typical day, our clients will arrive at the center, sign in, and enjoy leisure activities in the morning, such as enjoying our reading center, or watching a movie or playing a game with other participants and our caregivers,” says Warner. “We will also provide daily activities that will vary depending on the day, but you can expect to find on our schedule activities such as bingo, karaoke, and knitting caps for the newborns at local hospitals. We will also provide lunch at our facility.”

DSC 2446

Warner and his team encourage family members to stop by and tour the facility to see firsthand the advantages of participation.

“Our service will greatly benefit those who find themselves living in multi-generational homes, whose primary caregiver is stretched thin,” says Warner. “We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver. Our mission is to provide a fun, exciting place for your aging loved one to participate in activities that they love and maybe even try something new. Further, this facility allows those who may be isolated from the world an opportunity to open up and create new friendships.”

Warner 11 2017zone57 P 25

After interested seniors (or their loved ones) fill out an application for the program, they undergo a medical evaluation from their own doctor, and then a follow up visit with the program director at Your Home Care, Inc., to determine whether participation the adult day facility would be the best fit for their needs.

“We’re very serious about providing a compassionate caregiving service, preserving dignity, ensuring independence, and a higher quality of life,” says Boyd. “We want this to be as good a fit for you as it is for us.”

Taking stress off anyone’s plate is a loving act in itself. Yet, I can see how many selfless acts might feel like a double-edged sword. My mother is the primary caregiver for my 85-year-old stepfather who suffers from dementia. As a result, she has less time for activities she enjoys, spending time with her friends, going to the movies and the infinite other little things that seem to fill the cracks in a single day. When I emphasize the importance of also caring for herself, she brushes the thought away not wanting to be “selfish.”

“Taking advantage of a referred professional caregiver is not giving up on your loved one or being selfish,” says Warner. “On the contrary, you’re being selfless by bolstering your own love and support with professional, quality care while enabling you to spend more time enjoying their company.”

What could be more selfless (and scientific) than helping to lower cortisol levels (yours and your loved one’s)? Eliminating that unnecessary drain on energy can mean restored resiliency, greater access to memory, improved brain function. Selfish? Or selfless? Stress full? Or stress free? Through compassionate in-home care and its new adult day care center in Laguna Woods, Your Home Care is here to ensure that this choice is the easiest you’ve made in a long time.


Connect with Boyd and the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. by calling (949) 215-0004 or visit www.yourhomecare.com.
The Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center is located at 24191
Paseo de Valencia, Suite B in Laguna Woods.

There are 19 tracks on the original motion picture soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Track twelve was always my favorite. Entitled “Christmas at Hogwarts,” it was the amalgam of the two most magical things I could envision as a child: Christmas, and Harry Potter’s castle home. Starting November 17th and running through the first week of January, we’ll all get the opportunity to live the magic in real life at Universal Studios Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Featuring glistening snowfall for the very first time, guests can experience the spirit of the holidays Hogwarts-style, complete with a nightly light show and all the bewitched jingle bells a kid (or, let’s face it, full-grown adult) could ever want.

Beyond the walls of Hogsmeade lie attraction upon attraction. From a brand new state-of-the-art Universal Cinema to Voodoo Doughnuts and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, both making first appearances in California on the CityWalk. There are rides for every age, some a little scary, some hilarious; like Kung Fu Panda’s own Po, taking on The Emperor’s Quest. Our 11-year-old son and his father are adrenaline junkies so they couldn’t get enough of the Fast & Furious Supercharged Experience featured on The World-Famous Studio Tour. They raved about riding along with the cast from the hit movies on an exhilarating high-speed chase that exceeds 120 miles per hour, engulfed in the high-stakes underworld of fast cars and international crime cartels delivered via cutting-edge, hyper-realistic special effects, including 3D-HD imagery projected onto the world’s most expansive 360-degree screens.

USH Holidays 2018 Front Gate

Retail stores like Sephora, Lids, Sparky’s and Nectar Bath Treats await for when the kiddos have experienced all of the rides, but are just not quite ready to head home. More than 30 diners, cafes, and quick bites alike will satisfy any palate, especially if you’ve had one too many Butterbeers or Pumpkin Juices at Hog’s Head at the back of Three Broomsticks (or if you’ve spent too much time indulging in all manner of colorful sweets at Honeydukes, including Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Peppermint Toads).

The Grinch at USH

Beyond the rides, the restaurants, and the shops lies a real working movie studio, where you can see all 13 city blocks of the historic studio lot. Built under consultation with Steven Spielberg, the four acre entertainment behemoth is open for its world-famous hour-long tram tour. Visit with the toothy star of JAWS, and the smoking ruins of War of the Worlds’ jet crash. Hear from Jimmy Fallon as he takes the whole family behind the scenes where more movies and television shows have filmed than any other lot, anywhere in the world.

On top of everything else, Universal offers California residents one of the best deals in the entertainment world: buy a day, get a year free. It’s hard to pass up a deal this sweet, especially when the holidays are rapidly approaching. A full day of action awaits, all in one place. How magical is that?


To plan your visit or for more detailed information about the park’s attractions, entertainment, dining and shopping options, visit www.universalstudioshollywood.com

I can almost guarantee that everyone reading this has heard the phrase “cream of the crop.” Undoubtedly borrowed from the French, the saying was likely adopted in English-speaking countries for the way it rolls off the tongue.

Alliteration, and all. But the French saying is actually ‘la crème de la crème,’ the cream of the cream. Even better, one might say, and I agree. The top of the top, the best of the best.

The team at the San Clemente-based Talega Dental Group are just that. With a combined 50 years of experience in the office, between just the dentists alone, it’s no wonder that Talega has found such success over the last 14 years. “A healthy smile is a bliss,” says Amir Mozafari, DDS, who operates the practice alongside Steven Edwards, DDS and Pullad Salem, DDS. “The joy of preventing oral disease and decay is a gratifying satisfaction that has dedicated us to our profession.”

Specializing in patients who are afraid of the dentist, dentophobia, as it were, the trio of dentists at Talega Dental Group are determined to prevent everyday folks like you and me from never treating issues that arise because we are too afraid to sit down in the chair.

The consensus is clear: clients are pleased with their approach. Gentleness, state-of-the-art technologies, and doctors that treat you more like a person rather than just a set of teeth. “I recently had to get my wisdom teeth taken out and have been terrified,” says Victoria, a recent client. “I actually thought I might have to go under full anesthesia because the anxiety was too much to handle. The doctors were very sympathetic, put a huge emphasis on pain management (...) and let me know I could stop the procedure at any time if it was too much to handle.”

Donna L. agrees with Victoria’s assessment and adds “I was very impressed with the entire staff from the front desk to the hygienist to the dentists. Every was super nice and very caring. They explained everything before they did the work. The constantly checked to see if I was ok. The knowledge of what my insurance covered was top notch.”

Dr. Mozafari, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Salem are all members of the Orange County Dental Association, California Dental Association and the American Dental Association. Dr. Mozafari has been an active member of all three associations since he graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Dentistry in 1991. He has been practicing in California ever since, and as of late, even serves on the board of the Orange County Dental Society. Having built three successful practices from the ground up, Dr. Mozafari was selected as one of “America’s Top Dentists” by the Consumer Research Council of America.

Dr. Edwards is skilled in nearly everything dental -- from the simplest fillings to full mouth reconstruction and making life-changing smile improvements. Not only does he restore teeth and smiles, but he especially prides himself in helping people get control of their oral health. To this goal, Dr. Edwards has developed a proprietary Oral Fitness program with more than 38 different regimens for fighting issues such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, cavities, gum disease, discolored teeth, tooth abrasion and many more.

Dr. Salem received his Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Irvine and graduated with a Master of Science degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC. He then perused his passion in dentistry and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the prestigious USC School of Dentistry – world renowned for its advanced cosmetic and restorative training. During his tenure, he conducted research focusing on cosmetic dentistry with his mentor, the globally known Dr. Pascal Magne, the father of biomimetic dentistry. Today, he is one of the youngest members of the USC Dental School Faculty where he teaches Dental Morphology, Function and Esthetics along side his mentor, Dr. Magne.

“We have the best team. We use the best technology. We’re here to give you the best in care we can,” says Dr. Mozafari. “Comprehensive is the name of the game. From the top down, you’re taken care of.”

Talega Dental Group does regular exams, teeth whitening, dental implants, laser dentistry, veneers and Lumineer. Fillings to full mouth reconstruction. Restoring and keeping smiles bright go beyond the office for all three of Talega’s Doctors of Dental Surgery, conducting research in cosmetic dentistry and helping others gain control of their complete oral health. French or English, cream or crop- it is easy to recognize good service. And the folks at Talega are providing the best, one satisfied smile at a time.


IMG 0115Talega Dental Group is located at 1151 Puerta del Sol in San Clemente. Dr. Mozafari and his team can be reached by calling (949) 369-8300 or visit www.talegadental.net

You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice  Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.

That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.

In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.

Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?

Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.

Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?

A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.

Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?

A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.

Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?

A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.

Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?

A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.


IMG 8524For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

The word aloha rolls off the tongue like a tropical breeze at sunset, wafting through palm fronds - lifting the sweet smell of plumeria off its pink and white flowers and sending it tumbling down the street. In Waikiki, Honolulu’s world-famous neighborhood, aloha is everyday. An attitude, a lifestyle: casual elegance at its finest. Oahu as a whole is just that way, with its pristine beaches and iconic bookmark in the pages of U.S. history. So it didn’t take too much convincing to get my husband and kids on board for a vacation on island time at the Alohilani Resort (www.alohilaniresort.com).

This luxuriously modern oceanfront property resides on land held in the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust - the location was previously the site of the beachside residence of the islands’ last reigning monarch. 'Alohilani Resort, meaning “heavenly brightness,” pays homage to Lili’uokalani by bringing her love for the outdoors in - floor-to-ceiling windows flood the neutral-toned guest rooms with natural light and spectacular views of the crystal blue ocean, Diamond Head and city skyline. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, private lanais and the option of one king or two queen beds.

Alohilani ResortAlohilani ResortSituated within walking distance to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, the resort has no shortage of activities to keep the entire family occupied. There are many popular tourist attractions on Oahu - including the Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center - but if you’d rather stay in, you only have to go as far as the two-story lobby Oceanarium. 28,000 gallons of saltwater house an incredible variety of native Hawaiian reef fishes, fed daily at 10:30am and 2:30pm. If you’re a diver or just a girl who can’t get enough of Nemo, like our daughter, you’ll be glued to the glass indefinitely.

IMG 3817That is, if it weren’t for the Monkeypod Kids Club. My husband and I stole away to the rooftop Swell Pool. With views of the iconic Waikiki Beach, the elevated infinity pool was named one of the "10 most Instagram-worthy pools in America” by Instyle.com. Fashion meets function here as the decor is defined by insanely comfortable teak lounge furniture, tiered daybeds, cabanas, a hot tub and firepits. Our kids had just as much fun sans parents, making new friends and enjoying hands-on indoor and outdoor play, games and activities that reflected the cultural beauty, traditions and diversity of the islands, including making leis and arts and crafts (the schedule changes day to day including half-day adventures to nearby attractions).

Open to children aged 5-12, the Monkeypod Kids Club is the perfect solution for a family-friendly vacation. The kids pool keeps ‘em splashing and happy until Mom and Dad are ready to tear themselves away the aloha chic ambiance (Swell Bar offers an all-day menu including poke and kalua pork. Don't miss their signature cocktail, Ka Huna Kai, a frozen Mai Tai named for a song written by Queen Lili’uokalani).

IMG 2312Each morning, our family enjoyed an exceptional - and extensive - breakfast buffet in the property’s casual eatery, Lychee. Committed to sourcing products from the islands, chefs here prepare standard breakfast fare (eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc.), but the local specials and seasonal favorites make this dining experience truly stand out. Think sunrise papaya, sugarloaf pineapple, mango and rambutan, as well as locally produced honey, breakfast sausages and preserves.

View from Diamond Head Crater View from Diamond Head Crater If you can bear to leave the storied and gorgeous walls of the resort, just down the way is what just might be one of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets: The Street Food Hall (www.thestreetfoodhall.com), located in the bustling International Marketplace in the heart of Waikiki, is basically a nightly street fair-cum-food and wine festival. Created by Celebrity Chef Michael Mina as a tribute to his mother, The Street is infused with a sense of excitement and creativity celebrated in a curious kitchen, with chefs who aren’t afraid to dig in and take risks. Be it a casual lunch or the indulgence of a serious craving, The Street is there for the gathering. When you join The Street Party Hawker Crawl, you have the opportunity to visit up to seven of the 10 hawker locations and three bars to create your own custom dining experience and you have 30 days from the time you use initially use the card to come back time and again (think food festival without the one-day limit).

International Marketplace / Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Blake Bronstad

Sandwiches to seafood. Cocktails to coffee. Ramen to burgers and back with a side of superb music and some savory conversation makes for the cherry-on-top of a destination vacation that just won’t stop rolling out the alohas.

Area Attractions

Stairway to Heaven

If you’re looking for a memorable way to work in a bit of exercise on your trip, try hiking the Diamond Head Crater. I have to say, there’s something rather empowering about walking up the inside slop of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about a half a million years ago. Ancient Hawaiians called it Laeahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” has more recent roots in the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly believed that the glistening calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock were diamonds lodged in the lodged in the crater’s soil.

It takes 45 minutes to an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the trip back down. The trail is a switchback with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels carved into the mountain. The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb that my husband and kids clamored up with little effort while I took the slow and steady - and decidedly less “in shape” approach - that eventually ends at a World War II bunker. From there, you step out to one of the best panoramic views of the island. We lucked out with the weather which meant that once we summited the crater, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Oahu’s entire leeward side (the side to which the wind is blowing). Entry into the state park is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian.

Sea Life Park

Situated just 15 minutes from Waikiki along a scenic stretch of coast called Makapuu Point, Sea Life Park (www.sealifeparkhawaii.com) is a family-friendly marine-attraction that focuses on educational and interactive programs. Small enough to enjoy on foot, but diverse enough to spend the better part of a day, the park is home to dolphins, seals, stingrays and (small) sharks and features a 300,000 gallon reef aquarium, a breeding sanctuary for the state’s endangered sea turtles, habitats for Hawaiian monk seals and penguins, touch pools, an aviary and seabird sanctuary.

Fall isn’t necessarily a season in Southern California. Temperatures go from nice to really nice, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Perhaps a little dip in the evening mercury brings some cooler, foggy mornings. All things considered though, it is with certainty the best time of the year to schedule a getaway.

The beaches are deserted, the ocean hasn’t cooled off again yet, and you haven’t quite hit the craziness of the holidays.

Tucked back between the Carmel County Highlands and the Del Mar Mesa Preserve lies one of San Diego’s premier resorts. Stretching from Europe through the Riviera Maya, the Fairmont family of hotels take the concept of luxury to an entirely new level. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar (www.fairmont.com) is no different. From tennis courts and an 18-hole championship golf course to 37 miles of canyon preserve trails and the Pacific Ocean just miles beyond the borders of the resort, there is surely no abundance of activity to fill your every need.

If it is rest and relaxation you’re on the hunt for, and hiking doesn’t really suit your fancy, lounge poolside in the year-round sunlight, or simply soak in one of the deep tubs en suite and order room service while the day slips softly through the resort gardens. Each of the 249 elegantly appointed guest rooms feature spacious marble bathrooms, expansive balconies and terraces, and spectacular views of the grand golf club, gardens, or Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Resort Pool 1Los Peñasquitos Canyon is a nature preserve with historical significance as the first route from Yuma to San Diego, which is today a beautiful hiking, biking and horseback riding destination. Guests of the Grand Del Mar have access to all the canyon has to offer, with bikes available for pickup at the front desk, and horses at the on-site stables ready for trail riding. For those whose outdoor adventures entail a driver and a putter, the Grand Del Mar features the only Tom Fazio-designed golf course in San Diego, complimented by swing analysis technology services, a SAMPutt lab, specialized practice areas used by some of the world’s top professionals, and more. If you’re of the aquatic persuasion, the property features four pools, three that are ideal for families and one infinity (read tranquility) pool for adults only. Not far beyond pools are the resort’s private beach and oceanic excursions including sunset sails and whale watching. And this only scratches the surface.

fotka222

For spa enthusiasts, the Grand Del Mar offers one of the most acclaimed in the country. Treat yourself to a day of cleansing facials or therapeutic massages at one of only 60 Forbes rated 5-star spas in the world, with complimentary amenities including use of the fitness center, access to daily yoga classes, wet or dry saunas, and even a couple hours of Explorer’s Club access, the resort’s on-site kids club for ages 5-12. Signature hot teas and an all-organic line of spa products await while the littles are kept carefully contented. You might even have time for a delicious craft cocktail at the Lobby Lounge.

Open daily with live music on the weekends, flanked by warm fireplaces and elegant furnishings, the lounge boasts an intimate sophistication. Taste one of the resort’s signature drinks, like the Margarita Blossom - light and refreshing - or the Chaturanga, featuring coconut water and basil, while you snack on tapas style fare from the kitchen. Or hold onto your appetite and feast at Amaya, the Fairmont’s Mediterranean-inspired gourmet dining destination. Italy awaits at breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner on the terrace, using only the seasons’ most fresh market ingredients. Complete with antique books, stunning views, and two separate inviting rooms, Amaya is open to create a memorable, intimate atmosphere for whatever occasion you can come up with: even a simple staycation.

fotka223

The working wine cellar is pretty spectacular, providing guests at the resort tastes to compliment any menu combination. Seafood to salad, pasta, risotto, or something from the grill: only the most delectable ingredients make it onto your plate. USDA prime grade beef, both hormone and antibiotic-free, and local, family-owned Assenti’s Pasta make it onto the short list with flavor to spare, providing dishes such as the Prime Tomahawk Ribeye. Bone-in beef with crispy fried house potatoes and farmer’s market vegetables in a cognac-peppercorn jus is enough for two, perhaps with just enough room to spare for the resort’s very own tenth anniversary Grand Reserva Patron Anejo Tequila. But excellence does not stop at Amaya. From its six on-property food and beverage options (including in-room dining) and robust wine program to its seasonal menus and Afternoon Tea, the Grand Del Mar has something for every epicurean.

Even without the crisp weather that accompanies October and November onto the calendar across the country, the resort’s warm fireplaces, delicious seasonal fare, and views of the sun-kissed California coastline are enough to add a little magic to your weekend away, fall or no fall.

California is the home of a number of famous sights. You have all the obvious: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Disneyland, Hearst Castle. But there are those that are so embedded in the culture and identity of the state that you’d almost never know how famed they were. Chateau Montelena, home to the historic winner of the “Judgement of Paris” wine competition. The Gamble House, American Craftsman styles’ pinnacle example of aesthetics and philosophy under one roof. And then there’s Studio (located within the Montage Laguna Beach), with its own menu of star attractions that pay homage to California’s legendary tastes.

Modern French with its roots deep in California heritage, the culinary team at Studio - helmed by Chef Benjamin Martinek - has worked tirelessly to craft the region’s most sublime dishes from the finest seasonal and artisanal products. Impeccably appointed with an elegantly comfortable approach to fine dining, this Forbes Five-Star Craftsman-inspired restaurant is reminiscent of an elegant, yet charming beach cottage.

Chef Benjamin MartinekChef Benjamin MartinekPerched on one of Laguna Beach’s oceanfront bluffs facing due west, the dining experience here is replete with ocean breezes and stunning views. Guests can enjoy the private dining room or the Chef’s Table, an intimate room adjacent to the kitchen where the sky is truly the limit for your culinary curiosities. Complete with a fireplace and the attention of Studio’s gifted experts, no pairing is too far-fetched.

Ever-changing a la carte menus, chef’s tasting menus and private dinners at the Chef’s Table, perfectly paired selections from an extensive, carefully assembled wine collection - the concept and overall experience of Studio is dedicated to showcasing the best.

MLB Architectural Studio Interior EveningTo our delight on a recent evening out for “date night,” my husband and I sampled several of Chef Ben’s newest compelling small plate specialities: an absolutely delectable Roasted Pork Belly with garlic soubise, black eyed peas and sherry cipollini, the literally “melt in your mouth” roasted Mero Arctic Seabass enhanced with sunchoke, matsutake mushroom and Chinese broccoli and tender, cooked to perfection Grilled Beef Tenderloin paired with black trumpet mushroom, mustard greens and potato glass.

Mero Arctic SeabassMero Arctic SeabassA seafood aficionado? There are no shortage of options, including Seared Maine Diver Scallops (with roasted baby corn, miso-potato puree and dashi), Chilled Oysters (paired with hibiscus mignonette, fresh wasabi and cucumber) and Pacific Swordfish (accompanied by tarbais white beans, artichokes barigoule and meyer lemon). More of a meat eater? Try the Superior Farms Lamb Loin or Dry-Aged Beef Strip Loin accompanied by cordyceps mushrooms, sungold tomatoes, fermented garlic and braised parsnip.

Roasted Pork BellyRoasted Pork BellyPoised at the entrance to the picturesque dining room is the restaurant’s piece-de-resistance, custom-built wine vaults showcasing a more than 2,500 bottle wine collection, a unique, turn-of-the-century bar and a communal bar area offering an interactive dining experience for sampling fine wines or small tastes. Both boutique and esoteric selections combine to create a library of flavors bound to please any palate.

Roasted Filet of BeefRoasted Filet of BeefStudio’s sommeliers have assembled the restaurant’s Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine collection to help manufacture the most specialized menu in the nation: with endless pairing options and menus specifically crafted around guests wine preferences. The list features labels from the world’s major wine regions in a variety of formats, with an emphasis on benchmark wines and notable emerging wineries. On hand at every meal, they are constantly educating themselves to offer the finest suggestions and tastes of difficult to acquire vintages. On this night, Beverage Manager and Sommelier Troy Smith and Sommelier Gary poured the perfect pairings to accompany each taste - many of which we wouldn’t have known enough to order if left to our own devices and as such, would have missed out on some rather remarkable vintages including an 1997 Laurel Glen Estate Cabernet and a 2011 Soliste L’Age d’Or Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.

Roasted Filet of BeefRoasted Filet of BeefFor any special occasion, celebration or a most memorable date night, Studio is the romantic getaway spot for two: an elegant, oceanfront Craftsman cottage, a rare vintage, unrivaled culinary creations, superior service and a legendary sunset every night. Truly, famously, the best that California has to offer.


Studio Restaurant is located in the Montage Laguna Beach at 30801 Coast Hwy. in Laguna Beach. For reservations or more information, call (949) 715-6030 or visit www.montagehotels.com.