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With the help of her granddaughter, 92-year-old Dorothy Williams slipped her left foot into the leg of her royal blue and red flight suit followed by her right foot. Then she zipped the flight suit all the way up to her neck before donning a shiny blue helmet – her silver hair peeking out of the bottom.

It was going to be a good day to fly.

Mrs. Williams was a little scared but also excited. She traded jokes with her instructor as she learned the safety rules and basics of indoor skydiving at iFly. Mrs. Williams has been a resident at Shavano Park Senior Living for about a year where dementia and stage 4 cancer haven’t slowed her down.

“She’s always on the go, she has a lot of friends,” said Shavano Park’s Memory care nurse, Ashley Shipman.  “Almost every day she’s going to lunch with someone. She has been able to still have a very full social life here.”

For this special event, Mrs. Williams’ son, Brian attended and her daughter-in-law and granddaughter joined in by taking the class along with her.

“I think it eased her fears to have them along,” Ms. Shipman added.

The iFly trip was part of Shavano Park’s Vibrant life program, Livin’ the Dream, which gives residents an opportunity to try something they’ve always wanted to do. “I try to figure out what they might like to do and make them a reality,” said Kevin Van Orman, the Vibrant Life program director

Mrs. Williams was originally from England and she met her husband during World War II. He has since passed away. While she has difficulty remembering things she’s in good physical health for now. It’s not clear when the stage 4 cancer will start to overtake her physically so the staff knew they wanted to do something big for Dorothy.

Mr. Van Orman said he spoke to Mrs. Williams several times before her skydive letting her know the event was just around the corner.

“I knew she would do it,” he said.

After getting dressed the three generations of Williams women sat through the general instruction for flying in the vertical air tube. Each dive lasts just a couple of minutes. Mrs. Williams actually flew twice, Van Orman said.

Having her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter fly with her made it that much better, Van Orman said.

“I think it was good that her family was doing it with her, she was comfortable and she had a huge smile on her face the whole time,” he said.

Ashley Shipman said she remembers Mrs. Williams waving at everyone, smiling and joking around while other residents from Shavano Park’s memory care sat along and watched in awe. Dorothy can be seen around the community sporting her ifly t-shirt from time to time.

life-getting-started-1At 84, Greg Robertson is determined to get the most out of life each and every day. But he isn’t alone.

alone. He intends for his wife, who has dementia, to celebrate every day as well. Mr. Robertson knew he could no longer care for his wife on his own so together they entered assisted living.

When Shavano Park Senior Living opened, he discovered to his delight how an assisted living center could become home.

I have been a pastor my whole life and we were looking for a place that takes in quality of life. We think people who want to get the most out of the day should plant flowers, read a book, have a discussion, sing! It was clear from the out-set that Shavano Park wanted the same thing.”

Most assisted living facilities look similar from the outside and the inside. For example, common rooms often look more like preschools than social gathering spaces for distinguished elder adults. The staffs at these facilities often consider a day that goes along as scheduled, without disruption, to be a good day. Mr. Robertson believes a day without at least a little spontaneity represents an opportunity lost.

“Life doesn’t end in an assisted living community,” Mr. Robertson declares. “It is one thing to come up with the re-sources, but how do you motivate peo-ple to do it? A number of people here may have Parkinson’s or other diseases, but how do we make our life more vibrant with our conditions, not crippled because of our conditions?”

life-getting-started-2Mr. Robertson cites the work of Kevin Van Orman, Vibrant Life Director at Shavano Park, with helping residents maintain a purposeful lifestyle. “One way of describing what Kevin does, in addition to engendering dignity and purpose, is acknowledgement that each one of us has a story to tell from our lives. He en-courages us to not only tell our stories, but encourages us to make new stories.”

Mr. Robertson recalls watching Kevin work with one resident who has dementia and rarely spoke or engaged with others. Her daughter mentioned how much she once loved to fly. Kevin arranged to have her taken out with an instructor where she could fly in and pilot a single engine prop plane.

“Flying a plane illustrates how they can re-experience their joys,” enthuses Mr. Robertson, who was invited by the Shavano Park staff to serve as campus chaplain, connecting residents with multiple area churches.

“I was told on my first job, back in Michigan, that we should never try to be friends with the residents, that we should treat them as patients,” Kevin explains. “That sounded really weird to me. I realized quickly that when you look at people as family and friends, you give them dignity. The biggest thing for me became understanding people’s worth. They are more likely to trust you, to fol-low your suggestions for a more active, healthier, and thus enjoyable lifestyle.”

Examples of health and enjoyment abound inside the Spanish Mediterranean community, an environment where the staff doesn’t wear scrubs, where an astounding 75% of excursion participants are made up of residents from the Memory Care pro-gram, and where family members are encouraged to visit 24/7. The dining room and other common spaces are more suggestive of a resort ambience than an eldercare facility.

“We try to avoid kitschy decorations,” observes Senior Sales and Marketing Director, Kelly Schwennesen. “This is not a day care; it is a home for our residents. We do not use the term facility either, but rather consider this is a community filled with people who love to work and live here.”

Shavano Park residents are becoming well known in the surrounding communities as well. Nearly a quarter of the residents recently followed the whim of one resident and set off to explore the Alamo. Many attend local church services, including one resident with dementia who so loves to sing that she has joined several choirs thanks to Mr. Robertson’s connections.

“Even taking residents on a scenic ride for 20 minutes can open up their world,” states Schwennesen. “And it isn’t just about the very high-functioning residents. We want to focus on all residents. We’ve been very lucky to have very few who cannot be taken out. Taking out the residents makes for a huge part of the Shavano Park story.”

Mr. Robertson’s own wife, a former church organist, so delights in singing sacred music at her church every Sunday that Mr. Robertson has con-tacted local neural researchers to see if they would be interested in studying how music stimulates the brain.

Music plays a critical role throughout Shavano Park, not as mere back-ground noise, but during karaoke, group sings, and dances. There is a recently installed music system that allows Kevin and his staff to program specific music in each of the common rooms. Shavano Park is also licensed in the Music and Memory Program. Each resident receives a personal iPod where they can down-load individual music.

“I have two left feet when it comes to dancing,” muses Mr. Robertson. “But it’s amazing to see the sedentary folks that when the music comes on they move, more than entertainment, they actually start dancing.”

“We put on disco music or Michael Jackson and people just dance,” adds Kevin. “Dancing is part of our extensive fitness program. I think it’s unusual from other places because, in keeping with our Vibrant Life philosophy, we actually work toward real, direct results.”

Whether taking a memory care resident bowling, or bringing rescue dogs on community as part of the God’s Dogs program, the Shavano Park community believes the possibilities are endless when seniors are treated with dignity and respected for their potential.

“I love to see people do things that other people think they couldn’t do, or where they are already limited in their own minds” concludes Kevin.
“My personal goal is that people who are here are doing exactly what they would do at their previous home.”

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At Shavano Park Senior Living, the emphasis is on enhancing and enriching residents’ lives through new experiences, rediscovering longtime interests and connecting with family and friends.

Shavano Park Senior Living’s Vibrant Life program helps residents embrace life through seven basic components: Be Inspired, Be Well, Be Challenged, Be Adventurous, Be Family, Be Social and Be Connected.

Four signature programs were created to promote these components: Livin’ the Dream, designed to make residents’ dreams a reality; This is Your Life, showcasing residents’ life stories and personal accomplishments; Vibrant Life Inspires, offering residents the opportunity to become involved in charitable endeavors; and Path to Wellness, which encompasses various aspects of wellness.

SAN ANTONIO, TX (May 26, 2016) Shavano Park Senior Living, managed by Integral Senior Living and owned by Meridian Realty Advisors, is pleased to announce it that is now open as a new assisted living and memory care boutique community provides residents with a beautiful setting, amenities and services that provide an unsurpassed quality of life for residents.

“We are so pleased to open our doors to the community of San Antonio. Our dream of providing quality senior living care in a beautiful and unique environment is now a reality,” said Kelly Schwennesen, sales and marketing director for Shavano Park Senior Living. “We welcome everyone to come by and see what makes Shavano Park Senior Living so special.”


The Spanish Mediterranean-style building takes its flair from surrounding San Antonio architecture and blends beautifully with the natural environment. The community sits on 4.6 acres of landscaped grounds, where there’s large, outdoor courtyards with walking paths. The inspiration for the interior is cool, fluid water. Each design element flows through the space – from the interior arches, to the greens, blues, and earth-toned colors, to the fabrics, to the carefully selected furniture pieces, all to promote calming and wellness.

The boutique community offers 68 apartments, including 40 assisted living and 28 memory care residences. It features beautifully finished and spacious studios, one and two-bedroom assisted living apartments plus private memory care apartments in a specially designed neighborhood.

  • Shavano Park Senior Living’s comprehensive assisted living services are for those who choose or require assistance with their daily needs, but wish to remain as independent as possible.
  • For those with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other special needs, Shavano Park Senior Living offers a fully licensed Memory Care environment with 24-hour care available and supervision.

Finally relieved of housekeeping, home repair and meal preparation, residents of Shavano Park Senior Living offers a wide range of services and activities for residents to assist in taking advantage of those senior years.  Residents enjoy stimulating activities through its engaging Vibrant Life program that provide social, educational, religious and recreational opportunities with choices like community outings, musical programs, games, cards, gardening, painting, sewing, and much more. Residents also enjoy Shavano Park Senior Living’s award-winning Dining by Design program, scheduled transportation, an extensive activities schedule and services that enhance a vibrant senior lifestyle.

The location of Shavano Park Senior Living, provides easy access to local hospitals and other healthcare providers, as well as shopping and dining. For more information visit http://www.shavanoparkseniorliving.com.

About Shavano Park Senior Living

Shavano Park Senior Living provides the finest in senior living with assisted living and memory care options for residents. Located Shavano Park, Texas, the expertly trained staff provides residents with the highest standards of senior care services. It is operated by Integral Senior Living, which manages independent living, assisted living, and memory care properties. ISL is founded on a care philosophy that fosters dignity and respect for residents and promotes their independence and individuality. For more information on Shavano Park Senior Living, call 210-492-4040 or visit http://www.shavanoparkseniorliving.com.

Media Contact:

Kelly Schwennesen



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