Houston, Texas--In an increasingly technology-driven society, seniors are more digitally connected than ever.
Research from the Pew Research Center indicates two-thirds of those 65 and older go online and a record number now own smartphones.
"More than ever, seniors are online and incorporating the internet into their daily lives," says Hans Keller, Chief Information Officer for Erickson Living. "They use social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to interact with friends and keep up with grandkids, they use online banking tools and they use Open Table to make reservations. The tools are there, and they don't stratify by age."
Technology is for everyone
For senior living communities, the implication is clear. Web-based solutions and training opportunities are vital to meet the interests and expectations of current and future residents.
At Eagle's Trace, the Erickson Living retirement community in West Houston, resources exist across the campus to support early technology adopters, as well as those just venturing into the digital world.
"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."
Guest Wi-Fi is available in both clubhouses at Eagle's Trace, and high-speed wireless internet and phone is available in resident apartments through local providers.
When residents have technology-related questions, they can call or email the IT site manager for free or request support in their apartments for a nominal fee.
"Technology enriches the lives of our residents in many ways, including staying connected to family and friends, as well as providing access to entertainment, shopping and more," says Executive Director Stephen Aigner. "Having outstanding technology resources on campus is an essential part of our residents' vibrant and engaged lifestyle."
A resident experience
Tom Matchett moved to Eagle's Trace with his wife Peg in 2017.
"I can't imagine not using technology," says Matchett, who worked in finance for Shell Oil. "I keep in touch with friends and family on Facebook, I text with friends every day, I communicate via email, I use online banking, and I do some shopping online."
Like his peers, Matchett witnessed the evolution of technology over the course of his career.
"I remember using IBM punch cards," he says. "Then I got a personal computer in the 1970s. Now I have an iPhone, iPad, and two laptops. I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to computers, but I appreciate their utility. Technology offers an effective and cost-efficient way to communicate."
At Eagle's Trace, Matchett is a member of the newly formed Vision Committee, a subset of the community's Resident Advisory Council.
"Our goal is to examine the big picture, where we are and where we're going," says Matchett. "Technology, particularly as it relates to communication, is a big component of where we're headed. It impacts every area of operations."
A new app at Eagle's Trace
One of Erickson Living's most recent innovations is the MyErickson app, a free digital platform for laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Available for download on iTunes or Google Play, the MyErickson 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 year's end, 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 residents' fingertips and is continually expanding," says Aigner. "Residents like the convenience of being able to quickly access community information in one, easy-to-use app on their personal devices."
For Matchett, the MyErickson app is one more way technology facilitates communication.
"I use the resident directory feature the most," he says. "The app makes it easy to connect with friends and neighbors."
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 72-acre campus in West Houston, Texas. The not-for-profit community of more than 935 residents and 500 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight. Additional information can be found at EaglesTraceCommunity.com.