Senior Lifestyles

It's a bird! It's a plane!: Terraces at Los Altos teaches residents to fly drones

Megan V. Winslow / Town Crier
Gudrun Warrick, left, and Elizabeth Chang learn the art of flying a drone at The Terraces at Los Altos in December. The drone hovers and lands, top and above right.

Although you won’t see one flying around outside just yet, residents of The Terraces at Los Altos are learning the cutting-edge skill of flying drones.

Taught by fitness coordinator Juan (JC) Guzman, the class of up to 20 residents meets weekly in a large upstairs room at the retirement community. He explained that the benefits of drone-flying include hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and focus and attention. Cathy Jensen, The Terraces’ director of lifestyle and enrichment, added that there’s an intellectual benefit as well, by learning something brand new.

“We invite residents to step out of their comfort zones,” she said. “You’re never too old to learn new things.”

In addition to the drone class, The Terraces offers a chess club, bridge groups, poker, art and art appreciation, chair volleyball, guest speakers, outings throughout the Bay Area and a nationwide program called “Movement Matters.” While some of the offerings are taught by staff or, in the case of the current events program, a Foothill College instructor, others are resident-led.

“(Among the residents) there are doctors, scientists, artists – people from all different backgrounds,” Executive Director Sam Oden said, “and that’s what drives the programming we do here.”

With a number of retired engineers and pilots at The Terraces, the staff thought the drone class would prove popular – and it has.

Terraces resident Dody Sands, 97, is a regular in the class.

“I was so impressed that I asked (instructor) JC for the (information) so that I could buy one for my family for a Christmas present,” she said. “I think they’ll have a great deal of fun.”

Sands said drones are a new concept for most of the residents, and she appreciated being introduced to this aspect of modern life.

“When I talked to friends who didn’t come to this class – ‘I flew a little baby drone’ – people would kind of open their eyes,” she said. “I admire JC – I’ve been going to his classes for a long time.”

Sands’ drone-flying classmate Bobbie Huston and her husband used to own the Los Altos men’s clothing store Russell-Huston’s. At her second drone-flying class, Huston said it was getting more comfortable.

“JC says the more you’re relaxed about it, the easier it is,” she said. “(If) you tense up, your thumbs get wild.”

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