Narrated Memories: A Story App for People Living with Memory Loss

Stories are so impactful. They have the power to make us feel incredibly happy and grateful, especially stories about our families or pets. Carers can use apps to record stories that can be relived regularly.

The following clip is from an Alzheimer's Association educational session in York, Pennsylvania and demonstrates the use of narrated memories - a voice recording over a group of related images or photographs.

Narrated memories can be used to facilitate meaningful activities for people with dementia. As carers, we can help people living with dementia narrate their own memories or encourage loved ones to create stories for them.

Click the link to download Swaha for iPhone or iPad - Download Swaha

If you want to add visual effect and music to your stories, download the Adobe Spark Video app.

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Narrated Memories Transcript

A Meaningful Activity for Dementia

The following clip show an education session with the Alzheimer’s Association in York County, Pennsylvania.

We are discussing how everyday technologies can empower care teams. And during the clip, we demonstrate how to build narrative stories. A narrative story is simply a voice recording over a collection of images or photos.

Hearing a familiar voice tell a story can be very comforting and enjoyable for a person living with Alzheimers. Being able to save those stories can be extremely useful for family caregivers and the rest of their care team.

We’re going to do a narrative story. I’ve see narrative stories on a variety of topics: on joyful memories, on families, on past careers.  But one that is extremely popular is narrative stories on pets or animals.

Ok, volunteer, I need an animal.

Volunteer 1 - Basset hound

One of the nice things is… Do you have a basset hound?

Volunteer 1 - I do

What is your name?

Volunteer 1 - Kim

So Kim has a basset hound. If we had a picture of Kim’s basset hound that would be great.

Volunteer #1 - I do have a picture!

You could email that to me and I would have it. But if we didn’t, I can go on Google, search for basset hound and save the image for our narrative story.

It might be easier than you emailing your picture. As a dog owner, I’m not surprised you have a photo cued up and ready to go.

We’re going to search Google for Basset Hound. I am going to click on images. This is a good one. To save it, I am going to hold my finger on top of it and hold it down. It gives me an option to save the image. We are going to save all of the images that we are going to use for our story.

So, Kim has a basset hound and that’s why they always put a smile on her face. Does anyone else have an animal? We need two more volunteers. I know everyone loves dogs…

Volunteer #2 - lab

A specific type of lab?

Volunteer #2 - a black lab

Do you own a black lab

Volunteer #2 - I own a black and yellow lab, but I don’t like the yellow one

We’ll stick with the black lab. Alright, I am going to pull up images. Does this guy look good?

Volunteer #2 - It looks great

So we are going to save. We have Kim with the basset hound and…

Volunteer #2 - Mandy

and Mandy with the black lab. I am going to test my memory.

Volunteer #3 - Lets do a cat, a yellow one.

Alright, we are going to search Google for a yellow cat. Do you want to save a kitty or a big cat?

Volunteer #3 - A big cat. I like the one where it is looking at you.

Alright! We are going to save this guy. So we have Kim with the basset hound, Mandy with the black lab, and…

Volunteer #3 - Cindy

Cindy, cat… that will be an easy one to remember. Cindy do you have a yellow cat?

Volunteer #3 - I do!

Like I said, there are a couple apps that can do this but the one that I really like is Swaha. I like it because it’s simple. So I am going to open up this app. For anyone that uses Instagram, the layout will look pretty familiar.

We are going to create a story. I am going to hit this plus button to create a story. You’ll see how easy it is. I am going to choose the photos that I want for the story.

We have Cindy cat, Mandy black lab and Cindy cat. So I choose them… 1,2, 3. I am going to hit this arrow to go to the next step, and that’s it. Now, I can talk over top of those images. 

Forgive me for my lack of creative in this narrative. I am going to keep it pretty simple. 

The first picture we have is of a basset hound and this animal always puts a smile on Kim’s face because she owns a basset hound. The second animal we have is a black lab and black labs make Mandy smile because she owns a black lab. She also owns a yellow lab that is a puppy that doesn’t make her smile quite as often. And the final animal we have, we had to get a cat in there, because Cindy loves cat. She owns a cat similar to the cat in the picture.

I hit the checkmark. Are you finished? Yes. We give it a title: Pets. You have the option of making it public. Usually, when I use this app in a caregiving capacity, I make the story private. Tap save, and just like that, it’s upload our story. Now, we have a story.