Residents enjoy gaining new skills and connections during retirement years
September 27, 2019 – Highlands Ranch, Colo. – Today's seniors are more tech-savvy than ever before. According to a recent report from Pew Research, a record share of adults age 65 and over now own a smartphone, and 67 percent use the internet. Three quarters of those say they go online every day to stay informed and connected to friends and family.
At Wind Crest, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, resident Jean Willey has found a special way to use technology to bring people together while sharing her unique gifts.
Jean connects neighbors through digital photography, a hobby she picked up after retiring from her career in the medical device industry. Walk the halls of Wind Crest, and chances are, you will see her toting a Canon G1X Powershot with a zoom lens around her neck, working to document her neighbors' personal and artistic expression displayed all around the Highlands Ranch retirement community.
When Jean and her husband Doug moved to Wind Crest in June 2018 from north of Denver, she admired how her new neighbors expressed themselves through displays on the shelves outside their apartment doors. The shelves, originally designed to hold packages so residents could easily open their door, have morphed into an opportunity to display residents' personal history, hobbies, and seasonal décor.
Using the manual setting for each shot, she photographs the displays, downloads the photographs to her computer, edits them using a Windows photo editing software, and creates an album of the photographs for sharing on Wind Crest's My Erickson app. My Erickson is a free, proprietary app that can be installed on laptops, tablets and smartphones, empowering Wind Crest residents with easy access to information that supports their engaged retirement lifestyle.
"I think the shelves express people's personalities, and I wanted to share that and bring people together across the community on other floors and in other buildings," Jean says.
"Technology enriches the lives of our residents in so many ways; Jean is just one example. She represents how creative, modern, and tech savvy our residents can be," says Craig Erickson, Executive Director at Wind Crest. "That's why offering outstanding technology resources on campus is an essential part of our residents' vibrant and engaged lifestyle."
After retiring, Jean taught herself photography by taking online classes through Bluprint, an online subscription service offering thousands of classes on various topics taught by experts and available for on-demand streaming. Jean has taken upwards of 30 classes since first adopting the hobby.
"The quality of their classes is amazing. That's where you learn. That and taking pictures," Jean says.
Like Bluprint, Wind Crest offers a wide variety of activities and opportunities to learn and stay engaged. The community is able to meet the needs of residents who are new to technology as well as earlier adopters like Jean, thanks to a range of technology support services.
"Age is irrelevant when it comes to each person's digital journey. More than ever, seniors are online and incorporating the internet and online activities into their everyday lives," says Hans Keller, Erickson Living's Chief Information Officer. "Our goal at Wind Crest and all of our communities 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."
"By providing state of the art technologies and onsite support services, our campuses are ideal setting for residents to utilize an array of digital devices that help keep them connected with family and friends, as well as for other daily activities," he continued.
In addition to computer and digital literacy training through workshops and classes, Wind Crest provides free IT support to residents. A quick phone call or email will connect them to the community's IT support help desk for free telephone computer support, or residents can request in-apartment support for a nominal fee.
"At the heart of our campus is an impressive array of services and amenities—including digital tools and resources for those who want them and plenty of traditional amenities for those who don't," says Erickson. "Having web-based solutions and training opportunities on campus meets the expectations of both our tech-savvy residents and those who wish to learn."
Wind 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 aid and operational oversight of the community.
About Wind Crest: Wind Crest, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 84-acre campus in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,400 residents and 800 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 can be found at WindCrestRetirement.com.
Photo Credit: Julia Collins
Photo Caption: Jean Willey, who taught herself photography by streaming online classes, captures the unique shelf displays around Wind Crest, where she lives in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and shares her photos with other residents via the community's own digital app.