Seniors Digitally Connected More Than Ever
"I was visiting my daughter in Seattle in 2010," he says. "She'd just purchased an iPad, and I started playing around with it. I thought it was kind of interesting."
Denis' daughter and son-in-law joked he'd buy one as soon as he got home, but Denis brushed them off.
"The joke was on me, though," he says. "The day after I flew home, I found myself at Best Buy purchasing my first iPad."
Now, nine years later, Denis is on his third version of the Apple tablet, a tool he calls his "command center."
"If I ever lost my iPad, I'd be in trouble," says Denis, who uses his iPad to FaceTime his three children, keep track of appointments and events, check sports scores on the ESPN app, complete online banking transactions, watch his favorite shows on YouTube, search for recipes, and send graduation money to his grandkids through Venmo.
"It opens up the world," he says. "There's no limit to what you can learn or accomplish through technology."
Denis is in good company when it comes to his view of digital platforms.
A report from the Pew Research Center found that 67 percent of those 65 and older use the internet, a 55-point increase in just under two decades. Three-quarters of internet-using seniors go online on a daily basis.
"There's no doubt seniors are moving toward more digitally-connected lives," says Hans Keller, chief information officer for Erickson Living. "Once you start on your digital journey, age is almost irrelevant. For the most part, our residents use technology the same way everyone is using it. They use social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to interact with friends and keep up with grandkids, they use online banking tools, they use Open Table to make reservations. The tools are there, and they don't stratify by age."
Resources exist across the community to support early technology adopters, as well as those just venturing into the digital world at Brooksby Village, a not-for-profit organization, developed and operated by Erickson Living®. The community is governed by its own board of directors affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community.
"Our goal at Erickson Living is to meet residents where they are in their technology adoption, and, for those interested, offer opportunities to increase their digital skills as they enjoy an engaging lifestyle," says Keller. "By providing state-of-the-art technologies and onsite support services, our campuses are ideal settings for residents to utilize an array of digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, and voice activated assistants."
When residents have technology-related questions, they can call or email the IT site manager, Mohsan Awan, for free or request support in their apartments for a nominal fee.
Community members also learn from one another, as a resident-led iPad group meets monthly to offer support and instruction.
"Technology enriches the lives of our residents in so many ways, including staying connected to family and friends and providing access to entertainment, information, shopping, and more," says Brooksby's Executive Director Tracie Bettano. "Having outstanding technology resources on campus is an essential part of our residents' vibrant and engaged lifestyle."
To further enhance residents' connectedness to the community, the MyErickson app is a digital platform available for download on Google Play and iTunes. The app allows community members to access dining menus, activity calendars, group fitness schedules, and resident and staff directories, all at the touch of a button. By the end of the year, the app will be integrated with Alexa, allowing residents to ask Alexa what's for dinner or what's happening on campus.
"The MyErickson app puts so many resources at their fingertips and is continually expanding," says Bettano. "Residents like the convenience of being able to quickly access community information in one, easy-to-use app on their personal devices."
Larry Denis uses the MyErickson app to see menu options in each of Brooksby Village's onsite restaurants, as well as keeping track of daily events at the Peabody community.
"It's a great tool," he says. "The information is all there."
Photo caption: Larry Denis uses a variety of web-based solutions to support his active lifestyle at Brooksby Village, including the MyErickson app, a tool that provides immediate access to the programs and services offered at the Peabody community.
About Brooksby Village: Brooksby Village is one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living® and is situated on a scenic 90-acre campus in Peabody, Massachusetts. The not-for-profit community, located in Essex County, is home to 1,700 residents and is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of the community. Additional information about Brooksby Village can be found at BrooksbyVillage.com.