While some view digital technology as a challenge, others recognize an opportunity. Amber Wright is firmly in the latter camp and has turned these opportunities into a career.
Wright is the Digital Innovation Director at Coterie Hudson Yards, a luxury senior living community in Manhattan. She – and the wider Atria company – are at the forefront of exploring the digital tools that can serve older adults and make their lives easier.
Recently, Wright answered questions about her role, the changing relationship between seniors and tech, and how technology can further Atria’s mission of bringing people together.
Can you tell me a little about how you came to Atria and the Coterie community at Hudson Yards?
“Absolutely! I’ve been at Coterie Hudson Yards for a little over a year. The Coterie brand is very tech-forward, which appealed to me. We use circadian lighting in memory care and voice-assistant technology in our residences. I wanted to find a place on the cusp of these technologies, somewhere not hesitant to use them to improve people’s lives.”
What does a Digital Innovation Director do?
“I’m the on-site tech support for the entire community, so much of my time is with residents addressing their questions or any tech issues that arise. Each day looks different. One moment I’m helping someone book a trip online, and the next I’m helping someone print a manuscript. Whatever goals a resident has for the day – if it involves technology – it’s my job to make it a little easier.”
When did you discover your passion for this line of work?
“I learned a lot about answering these types of questions from my grandmother. She’s still working on a laptop at the age of 82. I knew I had the ability to meet people at their comfort level. Before coming to Atria, I worked for Apple in tech support, sometimes at odd hours. I noticed it was older adults who usually came in for assistance during these times when the store wasn’t loud or busy. They asked so many good, substantive questions and I enjoyed helping them – I realized then a lot of stereotypes about seniors and tech had fallen by the wayside.”
Where do you see this field going?
“Each year that passes, residents will only become savvier and more familiar with digital help. There are so many tools in development right now with AI – the ability to serve seniors in their recreational pursuits and in health care will continue to grow. It’s often a relief to residents – and for family members – that these tools are here to help them stay connected and engaged.”
Atria, and by extension, Coterie, often speak about core values. Is there a company value that resonates with you?
“When I first did research about Atria and Coterie, I was struck by the line: “At Atria, we work with the wisest people on the planet.” I’ve always remembered that, and in my experience, I can certainly speak to its truth. It’s funny because my role is to help residents and teach them things, but I learn something new from them every day.”