Don’t fear technology, “Digital Dorothy” tells peers
15 December 2017
| Care and Support
Eighty year old customer Dorothy Howard refuses to let age or ill-health stand in the way of her independent lifestyle.
By using a virtual reality headset, the Metropolitan sheltered scheme resident travels the world and visits faraway lands through the power of technology.
She’s seen the Egyptian pyramids, ridden rollercoasters, experienced life on the ocean floor and has plans to head to Tibet – all from the comfort of her flat in Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire.
She uses her Amazon Echo to operate her lights and set herself reminders, a knitting machine to make her own clothes, and is a regular participant in various Facebook groups, to help her become even more tech-savvy.
Dorothy’s enthusiasm for all things digital is such that it even earned her a namecheck from the founder of Facebook at a recent virtual reality conference in America. Mark Zuckerberg became aware of Dorothy when she asked for technical help with her virtual reality headset in an online forum. Since then, she’s been in demand as a video games reviewer.
Sharing the merits of digital technology is something Dorothy is keen to do with her fellow sheltered scheme residents:
“You reach a certain age and get used to doing things in a certain way, but technology is wonderful.”
“I want to tell people my age not to be afraid, there’s lots of help around and there are so many ways to make life better. You can use technology to speak to friends and family, to help you feel more secure or even to turn off the lights and TV if you have limited mobility.”
Technology has woven a thread throughout Dorothy’s life. One of her fondest memories is of her parents travelling to a London gadget fair in the 1940s and 50s, returning with items such as sock darning machines and mechanical can openers. A career in the Royal Army Signals allowed Dorothy to further indulge her love of tech and travel.
Now, in her ninth decade, she keeps up to date by watching The Gadget Show and reading about digital innovation online. She’s eyeing an Amazon Echo Show – a new enhanced version of the Amazon Echo with a video screen – as her next purchase.
Peter Leach, Metropolitan’s Older Person’s Service Development Lead, said: “Dorothy has an inquisitive nature that she uses to achieve everything she wants in life. It’s amazing to see how she uses technology to explore the world, keep in contact with her family and progress with hobbies such as knitting and sewing.”
Above: Dorothy demonstrates her ‘Oculus Rift’ headset, which allows her to go on all kinds of adventures without leaving her seat