Ashburn, Virginia--A recent survey by AARP® reports that "91 percent of those age 50+ currently use a computer and 94 percent say technology helps them keep in touch with friends and family."
For many residents of Ashby Ponds, daily technology usage enhances the lifestyle they enjoy at the Erickson Living retirement community in Ashburn. In addition to campus-wide computer support programs, including iPad learning classes and teen technology tutors, numerous residents support their neighbors with their digital endeavors.
Something for all
"It's our goal to meet residents where they are when it comes to all aspects of life, including the growing use of technology," says Kelsey Hunt, a Resident Life Coordinator.
"I find that the best part of technology is the many different ways it connects people and makes life easier," says community member Nan Krueger who created Ashby Ponds' first iPad user class shortly after her move in 2014.
Mary Alice Babka is grateful for the support she received from Nan after attending the classes.
"I now sit down every morning with my coffee, open my iPad and look at mail, use my apps and watch YouTube videos," she says. "I find that technology allows me to keep in touch with a dear friend who keeps a conflicting schedule."
Shortly after moving to Ashby Ponds in 2016, Elaine Weinholt discovered technology's ability to connect her to much-needed resources and recommendations.
"I enjoy going out but was in need of someone to take care of my cat," she says. "That's when I discovered the Next-Door app, which now connects me with almost 300 neighbors. If I pose a question, any registered user of the app can respond."
Elaine also uses her Fitbit to count steps and logs into Facebook to keep up with her grandchildren in Japan, China, California and Vermont.
Guest Wi-Fi is found in the clubhouses of Ashby Ponds, and high-speed wireless internet and phone are available in resident apartments.
Ashby Ponds rolled out a new app, MyErickson, that allows residents to access dining menus, activity calendars, group fitness schedules, directories and more from their smartphone or tablet.
"The MyErickson app provides important resources at residents' fingertips. In partnership with Erickson Living, our team has the ability to update the app with new features, such as nutritional information about our daily menus," notes Will Nance, Executive Director. "The feedback has been terrific as residents enjoy the convenience of being able to access information in one, easy-to-use location on their personal devices."
"Friendly and supportive"
Unlike some of her neighbors, Joan Helble admits that daily technology usage did not come naturally to her.
"I was dragged into the computer age by my grandson," she says. "Fortunately for me, my neighbors possess the knowledge that got me up and running."
Joan turned to the iPad users group for direction, and now utilizes an online calendar and emails friends and family daily.
"I was definitely a reluctant learner as I've always been a paper person," she says. "But there is such an openness here. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. That is very reassuring to someone who is new to technology and just learning the ropes."
And for Doug Strait, whose 53-year career included the management of advanced computer programs, sharing his passion for technology boasts far-reaching benefits.
"My goal in creating the advanced technology club at Ashby Ponds is to keep residents engaged in what's coming, to be excited about the future and to keep us all forward thinking," he says. "When it comes to technology, there is little point to looking behind. Rather, all the excitement is with what is to come. And that's a gift to us all."
About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia. The not-for-profit community of more than 1,475 residents and 550 employees is governed by its own board of directors, affiliated with National Senior Campuses, who provide independent financial and operational oversight of Ashby Ponds. Additional information can be found at AshbyPonds.com.