Different ways you can record and share memories, whether in writing, sound or video.
Setting down and sharing our stories is a powerful way for us to express ourselves. For a person with dementia especially, recording the things they’ve done and experienced can help communication and improve self-esteem.
Sharing favourite memories or keeping a diary can help someone reflect on their life, including friends, family, work, achievements, hobbies and holidays.
Many children and other younger relatives enjoy hearing and reading about these too.
You can record someone talking about their life using a microphone, digital video camera or webcam. Many computers, tablets and smartphones come with recording software. There are also recording apps such as Audacity that are free to download.
Through Dementia Diaries, people with dementia record audio diaries using their phone and then share them online. Visit their website to find out how and to listen to other people’s diary entries.
People who enjoy writing may prefer to keep a journal or to write stories about their past instead.
Films, tapes and other old recordings can be converted into digital files so they’re easier to store, share and enjoy.
For example, a USB cassette converter can be plugged into a computer to convert old tape recordings. These often come with their own software, but you can also use an app like Audacity to edit and organise digital files.
You can scan old photos, negatives or slides into the computer too. Apps such as EZYscan, which is free to download, help you to do this.
If converting recordings or photos is difficult, you could contact a professional conversion or photo scanning service.
Storing and sharing
Digital files can be stored and shared in many ways. For example, they can be uploaded to the Cloud for safekeeping, or shared on social media such as WhatsApp or Facebook.
Favourite photos can be displayed in a digital album or even in a ‘talking’ one, where you can hear pre-recorded messages alongside each picture. An app like GreyMatters can help to create a digital life story book using video clips, photos and text.
Of course, you don’t have to use digital files – a person might prefer making a scrapbook with photos, postcards or mementoes. This could be split by theme and include notes about people, events and activities.
What you said...
Dáithí Cee in Cork, who has dementia, shares recollections from his ‘fabulously queer life’ – everything from disco naps to marching on Washington – on his YouTube channel.
‘It was my very talented nephew, Eric, who suggested that I record short little video memories, while I still had capacity to do so,’ he says. ‘It has been fun and healing, and I am delighted that others are enjoying them.’
Gillian Holman in East Sussex, who’s recorded people’s stories for oral history work, says, ‘It is not necessary to have expensive equipment. It’s important not to take too long, as people get very tired and sometimes emotional.
‘It’s easy enough to suggest a break and continue after a cup of tea or even at a later date. Worth a try, it does get people thinking back.’