Blue Skies of Texas Has an All-Encompassing Approach to Wellness
We see the word “wellness” bandied about so much in today’s self-care-obsessed world, but its meaning and value often escape quantification. In the context of retirement living, wellness is a catch-all for resident health and fitness. Physical activity is a major factor in thriving throughout every stage of life and it’s a huge part of most people’s sense of happiness. But health and wellness are more than just about physical well-being. Treating the whole body includes mental health too. A little bit goes a long way. At Blue Skies of Texas residents are given comprehensive access to the activities and services that create a balanced lifestyle.
The welcome wagon
One of the first people residents meet when they move to Blue Skies of Texas is Shari Proctor, the Director of Wellness and Life Enrichment. “October will make it 25 years for me at Blue Skies,” Shari beamed. Her role as the director is to ensure each independent living resident stays independent.
“Blue Skies has a different approach than a lot of other communities. We break wellness and life enrichment into distinct areas. Life enrichment is the fitness and activities classes, whereas I handle more of the health-focused part of wellness,” she explained.
“In my role, I make sure they have a primary care physician who can make referrals to the specialists they need. Sometimes that means getting them set up with our on-location health center so they can continue any type of specialty care they need. We also ensure they have a system for getting their medications. We even pick up prescriptions for them if they need us to. We’re here to help navigate that for them. It’s very comprehensive.”
Shari is the first point of contact for most new members of Blue Skies, but she agrees it’s a team effort that makes the residents feel at home. Many staff members have been at Blue Skies for more than a decade. Her colleague Hope Santos heads up the fitness element of the wellness program, known as Life Enrichment.
We’re only as mobile as we are flexible
Hope Santos has been with Blue Skies of Texas for 23 years. As manager of life enrichment, she oversees all the fitness and activities classes on campus and off. Her list of certifications is lengthy, and it includes personal training, group fitness, Tai chi and aquatic fitness.
All physicians prescribe exercise as the best way to stay in good health. As Hope says, “We’re only as mobile as we are flexible.” Along with Shari, Hope also meets with new residents right away to check on their fitness levels and give them an orientation on the gym equipment, including the gorgeous heated indoor pools. Blue Skies offers both instructor-led classes as well as resident-led classes. More than 30 classes are available each week ranging from line dancing to strength training, balance, Pilates, Tai chi and aquatic aerobics. The programming, composed of cardio, strength, balance, flexibility and relaxation, form the principles of how to keep residents independent.
In addition to the fitness classes available at Blue Skies, there are more than 70 resident-run clubs, programs and committees. One resident in his 80s is part of the running club and has participated in more than 110 half marathons. Many of the runners in the club still compete and bring home prizes. There are plenty of clubs focused on outdoor activities that allow residents to spend time in the wonderful San Antonio climate. The Blue Skies bicycle team has group rides on and off campus, ranging from a casual ride around the community to a 50-mile ride complete with a breakfast taco stop. The gardening club and bocci clubs are very popular, as well as the walking club that takes brisk group strolls around the property. For residents who prefer to spend time indoors, there are book clubs, writing clubs, drama clubs, choirs and game leagues.
Hope also helps plan the outings that are a big hit with residents. With transportation provided by Blue Skies of Texas, residents get to try new downtown restaurants as well as take cultural trips to museums, concerts, theatre productions, and area historic missions. The outings help residents get to know each other better and form lasting connections. Socialization is another way we stay healthy throughout life.
Enrichment through new experiences
Another unique aspect about living at Blue Skies is how the wellness team pairs new residents with existing residents they refer to as “sponsors.” Shari and Hope help pair new residents with folks they think they’d have a lot in common with.
Elaine Bell and her husband Leo recently moved to the West Campus of Blue Skies of Texas. “I’ve been exercising all my life. I do yoga, total conditioning, water aerobics, I swim laps once a week and I like to walk to the campus on Saturdays if I can.” Elaine says she’s made a lot of wonderful friends in the classes as well. “I like the water aerobics because it has the cardio element. We use weights and we have an excellent teacher, Hope. She really keeps us challenged, but I love it.” Elaine also takes a total conditioning class. “It’s a pared down version of what I was doing at LA Fitness back in Duncanville where we moved from. We do some cardio, squats, lunges and those sorts of things. We don’t use the mats though, they’re mostly for standing exercises.”
Elaine and her husband both really like living in the Towers at West Campus. They get first access to sign-ups for both classes and outings as well as all their healthcare needs. Their favorite things are the ever-popular wine tastings and they’ve gone on several of the group outings to places like the Botanical Gardens and the historic missions.
Through clubs and volunteering opportunities they’ve both made new friends. When they were looking for retirement living, they both were apprehensive about the whole thing.
“All you read is don’t ever make a decision on your first visit, but we were here for a day and put a deposit down before we left. We agreed that the staff was really friendly and seemed like they really care. We love to come down to the dining room and get to talk to the staff just like they were old friends.”
Both Hope and Shari agree that the staff at Blue Skies of Texas is part of what makes this one of the best places to retire. In an era where it can be difficult to find quality staffing, Blue Skies and its residents do a great job at retention. The support given by the loyal staff contributes to the overall wellness of the residents.
We invite you to come visit and join a club activity or participate in one of our classes. Call one of our counselors today. 866-553-5389.