Kathy Moffitt proves computers and social media aren't only for youngsters
Kathy Moffitt, who does nearly all communication via email or text, would fit in well on a college campus even though she's well past her 20s. Yet she's not an anomaly. Research shows that today's seniors are often just as comfortable using technology as their younger counterparts.
With three laptops, an Android smartphone, and a tablet, Kathy is well equipped to serve as social media ambassador at her community, Cedar Crest, a developed and managed Erickson Living senior living community situated on a scenic 130-acre campus in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.
Staying Connected Through Social Media and MyErickson APP
As social media ambassador, Kathy attends events on campus, takes photographs with her smartphone, and posts them on Cedar Crest's Facebook page.
"I like it. It gets me to more events than I probably would attend otherwise," she says.
In addition to serving as social media ambassador, she provides technical assistance for campus organizations, orders groceries online, makes appointments online, and pays all her bills online. She uses the MyErickson app daily to check menus or My Nutrition, refer to the resident directory, or see what's on TV.
"[MyErickson] is the best thing they ever did here," she says.
Cedar Crest launched MyErickson in 2018. The app gives residents access to meal balances, menus, activity schedules, and the resident directory from their device of choice.
More traditional neighbors can find information on announcements in their mail cubbies and through the community TV channel. Next year, MyErickson is being integrated with Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant so those on campus can get community information via voice command.
"The response to MyErickson has been tremendous," says Erickson Living's Chief Information Officer Hans Keller. "The number of residents enrolled doubled from last year. We expect to reach an enrollment rate of 75 percent this year."
Campus-wide high-speed WiFi provides Internet access. Some residents use it to download books to their Kindle or iPad, others use it to Skype or FaceTime with grandkids. Others use it to text each other to arrange dinner plans. Tech support empowers residents to connect with others and find information that supports their active lifestyle.
Kathy, for example, writes articles for Cedar Crest's monthly newsletter, Mountain Matters, creates the church bulletin for the Protestant community at Cedar Crest (part of a broader interfaith community), and serves on the Resident Advisory Council.
She uses her dining room table in her large one-bedroom home as a desk for her laptops and stores everything neatly away when she has company.
While Kathy represents about two-thirds of her neighbors, Cedar Crest caters to those not as technologically savvy as well.
Cedar Crest's Commitment to Technology
Cedar Crest provides free IT support to residents; they can call or email Erickson Living's IT support desk for free telephone computer support, as well as request in-apartment support for a nominal fee. Erickson Living's selection the past nine years as a Computerworld "Best Places to Work in Information Technology" reflects the degree of company staff expertise in developing systems and resources that support resident use of technology.
"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 Erickson Living's Chief Information Officer Hans Keller.
"By providing state of the art technologies and onsite support services, our campuses are an ideal setting for residents to utilize an array of digital devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, voice activated assistants) that help keep them connected with family and friends, as well as for other daily activities (e.g., getting news, accessing social media sites, making purchases)," says Keller.
Kathy, who began her career as an executive secretary and held several roles in between—from bookkeeper to environmental claims specialist—says, "I find computers to be such a useful tool. It's just something to make the work go faster. I could not possibly do all I do here without computers."
"Having outstanding technology resources on campus is an essential part of our residents' vibrant and engaged lifestyle," said Executive Director Todd DeLaney.
Cedar Crest is a not-for-profit organization, developed and managed 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.
About Cedar Crest: Cedar Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 130-acre campus in Pompton Plains, New Jersey. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,800 residents and 1,000 employees 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 Cedar Crest can be found at CedarCrestCommunity.com.
PHOTO: Cedar Crest resident Kathy Moffitt enjoys using her tablet, smartphone, and more to stay digitally connected.
Written by Julia Collins