Alzheimer’s Dementia, Senior Living, Stories

Recognizing a True Trailblazer, Alex Salabarria

On this day, Global ALS Awareness Day, we not only recognize and bring awareness to this disease and those affected by it globally, but a man that holds a unique and treasured place in the heart of Oaks Senior Living; our founder Alex Salabarria.

On June 22nd 2023, Alex and the Salabarria’s
world was turned upside down.

Alex had been having unexplained medical issues for about a year. He went through extensive testing and was ultimately diagnosed with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Anyone that receives such news and starts the journey through ALS deserves honor. But for Alex and his dedication to Oaks Senior Living, it’s residents, and the future of the Senior Living Industry; there is no better person to recognize today.

Let’s start at the beginning. Alex was raised with two siblings and supportive parents in Ocala Florida. He attended Forest High School in Ocala where he was the Quarterback for the Football Team and Pitcher for the Baseball Team. He received a scholarship to play baseball at several smaller colleges but chose to attend a major university instead. He went to Florida State University for a degree in hospitality management. Alex is currently a Florida State Booster, season football ticket holder and avid supporter of Florida State Athletics. After FSU, he accepted a position as a Manager for Bennigan’s Restaurant and then later became a Regional Manager for Chili’s Restaurant chain.

However, in 1997, the future of Alex’s life and career would quickly change. Alex’s father, who was in the construction business, had a dream to build a community for seniors with Alzheimer’s due to his own mother passing from the disease. He felt that there had to be a better option than skilled nursing care for people suffering with Dementia and other memory impairment diseases. He moved to Georgia to be near his grandchildren, found land to build the community and called Alex to help him to research, develop, and ultimately manage the community. Alex accepted, moved away from the hospitality industry, learned the business, and assisted his father with the design and development. He wore many hats in the beginning: Sales & Marketing Director, Executive Director, Maintenance Director, Dining Services Manager, Activities Director, Caregiver, Housekeeper… you name it, he did it! He lived in the community for the first year that it was open, and was committed to serving with faith, knowledge, compassion and love.

The Salabarria Family breaking ground on their first senior living facility.

Alex quickly realized that taking care of elders was not just his father’s dream, but it was a calling from God and ultimately his own passion. He loved spending time with the residents and making them laugh. Ensuring their safety, providing the best care and building the best reputation in the industry was his goal. Community culture was his focus from the beginning, always leading by example and building teams that loved coming to work each day. This culture is what has made Oaks Senior Living successful and a leader in our industry.

Alex’s impact goes far beyond Oaks Senior Living, however. He has served on the Board of Directors for Georgia Senior Living Association for 26 years and served as Chairman of the Board for 3 of those years. He fought for Georgia legislation change regarding seniors being able to age in place in assisted living communities rather than being forced to move into a skilled nursing facility. He along with other board directors in the association won that battle after three long years, and today our aging population can enjoy living in assisted living much longer.

Now retired from a company that he helped build to be the largest Senior Living provider in the state of Georgia, Alex spends time with his family and friends, the ones he loves the most. Though living with ALS is a challenge beyond comprehension, he continues to show his love and compassion for the people in his communities, visiting the communities to love on the teams and residents. His heart of service is still as present and abundant as it has ever been. Alex is a man and industry leader who is known and will be remembered, not just for the company he built, or industry impacts created, but the individual lives he changed forever because he said yes to the calling on his life. Alex, the Oaks Senior Living family and legacy would not be a reality without you. Thank you.

For more information on ALS, or to find ways to help the fight against the disease, please visit

Get to know Oaks Senior Living

Whether you are looking to learn more about Senior Living at Oaks, are interested
in how to partner with us, or have management questions—please contact us today.