Embracing tech

Riderwood residents use technology to make their lives easier, more interesting

Created date

October 28th, 2019
Trudy Downs is one of the many tech-savvy retirees living at Riderwood. She is the vice president of the resident-run computer club and also provides iPhone and iPad tutoring for her neighbors.

Trudy Downs is one of the many tech-savvy retirees living at Riderwood. She is the vice president of the resident-run computer club and also provides iPhone and iPad tutoring for her neighbors. 

These days, young people aren’t the only ones using technology to stay connected and make their lives easier. In fact, people age 65 and older are embracing technology more than ever. 

According to a recent report from Pew Research, a record number of older adults now use smartphones. About two-thirds of people age 65 and over go online, with 75% of those going online on a daily basis. A full 67% of older adults now use the internet, which represents a jump of 55 percentage points compared to 20 years ago.  

That’s why Riderwood and its parent company, Erickson Living, offer options for residents to enhance their lives with technology. People living at Riderwood can take advantage of high-speed Wi-Fi, on-site tech support, and access to My Erickson, a digital app that provides access to all kinds of information about life on campus, including maps and phone numbers, messages, dining menus, activity calendars, transit schedules, local directories, staff information, and much more.

Technology support at the ready

“Technology is incredibly important to our residents,” says Amy Hahn, community resources lead coordinator at Riderwood. “We are seeing residents who are comfortable with technology use it in new and innovative ways, as well as residents who did not come to Riderwood with a technology background but who are driven to learn and utilize technology. And we have new residents who are really excited to connect with their new neighbors through technology.”

Trudy Downs is one of the many tech-savvy retirees living at Riderwood. She spent the last part of her career working in information technology, so she’s at ease with computers and other digital devices. She currently serves as vice president of the resident-run computer club and also provides iPad and iPhone tutoring to her neighbors each week.

“For most people, tablets and smartphones are all they need. People don’t really need a computer because most people just want email, to look up things on the web, read a book, watch a movie, so a tablet is good for them,” Trudy says. “That is why there is a real benefit to having help for them here on campus. In addition to my teaching, the computer club has a computer roundtable, where we answer questions for residents once a month and we also do Android tablet and phone tutoring.”

Trudy moved to Riderwood in 2005. She says that, over the years, residents have become increasingly interested in using technology to enhance their lives.

“I would say as new people move in, they are more tech-savvy and they are used to technology,” she says. “We did a survey at one point, and we had maybe 30% to 40% of residents using technology, but now my guess is we are probably at 60% who use technology and want it.”

Innovative ways to enjoy retirement

Riderwood community members are increasingly finding creative ways to use technology to make their lives easier and more interesting. Many residents use the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps for convenient transportation if they no longer drive. Some low-vision residents use verbal reading technology to read books and other information. 

Sharon MacInnes uses several online research portals for her genealogy research and will be teaching a lifelong learning class in the upcoming trimester. Resident Hannah Spalding leads a “Genealogy Through Technology” group as well. 

“I think we’re seeing a huge uptick in residents utilizing technology on a regular basis,” says Chris Taydus, community TV and AV manager at Riderwood. “A larger group of our residents are really starting to see how technology can be tailored to their needs to help them find the information they want.”

Many community members have now incorporated the My Erickson app into their daily lives. If they need to find a neighbor’s phone number, pay their monthly service package, or check tonight’s dinner menu, the app puts all of that information right at their fingertips. The app also has a function that allows residents to get to know their neighbors.

“Riderwood has been encouraging residents to create profiles on My Erickson with information like their interests and past professions, and we are seeing many residents connect with their neighbors by finding commonalities in the very searchable resident directory on My Erickson,” Hahn says. 

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