Embracing technology

Tallgrass Creek neighbors are tech savvy and digitally connected

Created date

October 29th, 2019
Jean Tracy and her sister Nancy Davis (left) use their laptops and smartphones every day. Jean also helps train her fellow neighbors on My Erickson, an app developed by Erickson Living that can be installed on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

Jean Tracy and her sister Nancy Davis (left) use their laptops and smartphones every day. Jean also helps train her fellow neighbors on My Erickson, an app developed by Erickson Living that can be installed on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

Jean Tracy smiles as she remembers the first computer she ever used. 

“It was in the early ’80s,” says Jean, who moved from California two years ago to Tallgrass Creek, in Overland Park, Kans. “It was called a ‘luggable’ and was the precursor to a laptop. It weighed so much, I needed a cart to move it around.” 

Throughout her 32-year career as a worker’s compensation premium auditor, Jean continued using many different computers. 

“I worked with a progressive company that saw the future in computers and upgraded often, so I developed an understanding for them,” says Jean. 

Like many of her neighbors, Jean uses some form of technology every day. Along with texting and emailing, she reads the newspaper online and relies on Alexa, a virtual assistant developed by Amazon. 

Jean even used her laptop to initially “visit” Tallgrass Creek, one of 20 communities developed and managed by Baltimore, Md.-based Erickson Living.

“I was still living in California and researching retirement communities in this area on the internet,” says Jean who moved to Kansas to be closer to family. “I first thought about moving to a retirement community in ten years, so I started checking out places with continuing care facilities.” 

Along with the amenities offered at Tallgrass Creek, Jean learned about Blue Sage Pointe, the community’s continuing care neighborhood, which offers world-class assisted living, memory care, and post-acute rehabilitation care. 

“A couple months later, I visited Tallgrass Creek in person, and my ten-year plan turned into a one-year plan,” says Jean.  “Now that I’m here, I love it. The activities are incredible, and the people are wonderful. I do way more than I ever did in California.”

Neighbors helping neighbors  

Fred Olson is among many at Tallgrass Creek who order items online, own a smartphone, and use social media frequently. His smartphone is loaded with apps such as FamilyAlbum and WineSpectator, along with Instagram, and more. 

“Everything I need to keep up with my family and other interests is at my fingertips,” says Fred. 

As one of 180 veterans at Tallgrass Creek, Fred uses his technical know-how to assist his fellow veterans with using computers to put together the presentations they occasionally make to community members about their military experience. 

“I use PowerPoint to design visuals and photos that go along with the speaker’s notes,” says Fred. “These presentations are always interesting so I enjoy working on them.”     

Jean, Fred, and several other residents offered more neighborly assistance earlier this year at how-to labs where they answered residents’ questions about their cell phones, laptops, iPads, and Kindle devices. They are now available on an as-needed basis to help.   

The group also helps train residents on My Erickson, a free, digital application developed by Erickson Living that can be installed on laptops, desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. The easy-to-use app provides residents with community information such as phone numbers, messages, dining menus, activity calendars, transit schedules, and more. 

“We install it on our phones and other devices,” says Fred. “It’s a quick reference to see what’s going on or get questions answered. I use it all the time.” 

Family members of residents are also welcome to download the app and log on as a guest (with restricted access) so they can keep up with community information.

Nature on display

Lila Martin has expanded both her technological and photographic skills since she and her husband Jerry moved to Tallgrass Creek 11 years ago. 

Lila’s eye-catching slideshows are shown twice daily on the community’s television channel, and feature photos she took of Tallgrass Creek’s manicured landscape, native grasses, and plants. She uses PowerPoint and a program called Movie Maker to create and set the slideshows to music. 

“People seem to enjoy seeing what surrounds us outdoors,” says Lila. “They are very generous with their comments. It’s a fun, creative outlet.”  

Lila also uses her computer to design calendars that depict the changing beauty of Tallgrass Creek’s campus each month. 

“The staff at Tallgrass is very encouraging about learning and trying new things,” says Lila. “It’s wonderful to have that support.” 

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