Parkville, Maryland—A study released by Michigan State University concluded that the quality of life for older adults can be enhanced by technology use. And a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center noted that more seniors (67 percent) are using the internet than ever.
"Age is irrelevant when it comes to each person's digital journey. Seniors are on-line and incorporating the internet into their everyday lives," said Hans Keller, Chief Information Officer for Erickson Living, a developer and manager of continuing care retirement communities across the nation.
Residents like Jim Fennessey of Oak Crest are engaging in these national trends. He moved to the Erickson Living retirement community with his wife, Jo, in 2012.
"I began my career as a professor of sociology, but my path led me into the computer management field at Johns Hopkins University," Jim described. "To this day, I've enjoyed the challenge of creating processes to solve problems and tinkering with networks."
Resources at Oak Crest
"Our goal 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," stated Mr. Keller.
Oak Crest provides IT assistance to residents. They can call or email the company's help desk for free support or request an in-home visit from a trained professional for a nominal fee. Since 2015, Wi-Fi access on campus has been included as part of the monthly service package. Residents can connect to the secure Wi-Fi network anywhere on campus…in their apartment homes, in a restaurant or even outdoors areas near a building. This makes it convenient to stay on-line and be secure.
"Technology enriches the lives of our residents in so many ways, including staying connected to family and friends as well as providing access to entertainment, information and shopping," said Mark Roussey, Executive Director. "Having strong resources and infrastructure on campus is an essential part of our residents' vibrant lifestyle."
Something for everyone
Residents of Oak Crest have formed technology groups such as the Computer Group, Android Clinic and iPad User drop in-sessions to assist their peers in learning more about digital devices, no matter the skill level.
Barbara Zorn has been the co-chair of iPad users groups since their inception in 2013. "Our mentors provide hands-on support that focus on basic usage and important apps," she said. "We are very welcoming, and it's always rewarding to see residents enjoy the benefits of technology."
The MyErickson app
One of Erickson Living's innovations helping to keep information at the fingertips of residents is My Erickson, a free proprietary app that can be installed on laptops, tablets and smartphones. It provides access to current news about Oak Crest such as dining menus, activity calendars, phone numbers, special messages and much more at any time of day.
Count Jim as one of its users.
"I prefer digital over paper for information so the MyErickson app is convenient for me," notes Jim, whose personal devices include a Dell laptop and a smart TV & phone. "I particularly like the ease in searching for directories and reading newsletters. I can always print content if needed."
Residents serving as good neighbors to each other has been a hallmark of Oak Crest since its opening in 1995. Jim has occasionally served as a troubleshooter for his peers when it comes to little issues such as hooking up a printer. He offers simple advice for those just beginning their digital journey.
"It's very similar to starting an exercise regimen," he said. "Have patience, find a trusted instructor and learn one thing at a time. Fortunately, we have resources at Oak Crest that will allow everyone to take advantage of technology."
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Parkville, Maryland. The not-for-profit community of more than 2,100 residents and 1,250 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Oak Crest. Additional information can be found at OakCrestCommunity.com.