According to technology news leader Digital Trends, the most downloaded mobile apps in the U.S. include YouTube, Google Maps, and Amazon. However, for community members at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., My Erickson, complete with a wide range of community specific information, tops the charts. More than 6,000 other Erickson Living residents across 20 communities use the app, which launched at Ashby Ponds in late January.
According to the PEW Research Center, "A majority of seniors make the Internet a standard part of their daily routine. Roughly three-quarters of older Internet users go online at least daily, with 51% indicating that they go online several times throughout the day."
With this in mind, Erickson Living launched an effort to connect digitally.
"My Erickson is part of a well-conceived strategy to offer technology to residents and empower them to find information that supports their active lifestyle," says Erickson Living IT Applications Director Kerri Shirey.
My Erickson is available for use on personal computers as well as Android, Kindle, and Apple mobile devices. Anyone can download it from Google Play or iTunes and log in as a guest to review limited community information. Residents receive a private login when they register for the app and gain full access.
"The My Erickson app is a huge step forward in providing consistent up-to-date information to residents who use computers as their customary way of communicating," says Ashby Ponds community member Nan Krueger, who provided feedback on the app prior to its launch.
One of the reasons the My Erickson app is so popular is that it provides information on a wide range of topics while also being easily accessible. According to PEW research, "The use of mobile applications simplifies the process of getting online. The 'one-touch-and-you're-in accessibility is extremely attractive to the older population.'"
"Our intent was to provide information for our residents whenever they want it, however they want it, and on whatever devices they use," says Shirey. "Our extensive research with both current and prospective residents served as an ideal pathway for making My Erickson a perfect fit to meet the interests and expectations of today's and tomorrow's seniors."
The My Erickson app is free and offered to all community members at Ashby Ponds. It provides in-the-moment access to community information, messages, dining menus, meal balance, activity calendars, transit schedules, local directories, and staff information. Community Resource Manager Faith Edwards helps introduce residents to the app's many features.
"Ashby Ponds community members are lifelong learners, so we encourage them to practice and experiment with the app and to use it for whichever needs they have," says Edwards. "It enriches their lives by providing the most up-to-date information on a variety of aspects, and it is information they can take with them if they use a portable device like a tablet or a smartphone."
Before the first release of My Erickson, the Erickson Living team held several focus groups to ensure the app would not only provide community members with information they desired but that it could also be easily updated.
When asked how long it's taken to create the app, Shirey says, "We're still creating it. The first conversation was in 2013, and we are now on our eighth generation. It's really fun to be innovative for a dynamic and diverse group like our senior population. We began with a group of about 30 Erickson Living residents who provided feedback. They were very forthright, which made it easier for us. Their feedback instructed us to keep it simple, easy to understand, and to provide important information. That's what we've done."
In addition to the wealth of information currently provided through the My Erickson app at Ashby Ponds, plans are currently underway to provide users with the opportunity to sign up for activities through the app and add them to their online calendars as well as ways to utilize Amazon's Alexa for voice-enabled information.
Helping each other
Although Ashby Ponds community members most often use the My Erickson app from their personal computer, laptop, or mobile phone, four computers are currently located in the community's Farmwell Hall for those who wish to access the app.
In addition, several tech-savvy Ashby Ponds community members offer one-on-one support to their neighbors as needed.
"There is tremendous support within our community to help each other utilize technology in a way that make life easier," says Edwards. "I'm excited to see what this program can provide both now and in the future."
The top ten information-rich My Erickson app functions (No. 1 being the highest interest) include:
1. My Meal Balance: to check on available meal balance
2. Bulletin Boards: to access community announcements and alerts
3. My Appointments: to schedule appointments for services like home maintenance
4. Staff Directory: to obtain staff contact information
5. Resident Directory: to obtain resident contact information
6. My Calendar: to maintain a personalized calendar
7. My Events: to view activities and plan attendance at events, e.g., clubs and trips
8. Restaurant Information: to obtain dining information, e.g., hours and menus
9. My Messages: to obtain notices like community messages
10. Clubs, Classes, and Groups: to provide club members access to club-related information
To learn more about the My Erickson app and vibrant senior living at Ashby Ponds, request a free brochure today!