Social media has transformed the way we record, store and share our memories and life stories. Unfortunately, it’s not all changed for the better, data scandal after data scandal has slowly woken the public up to the dangers of giving the huge Silicon Valley tech companies unlimited access to so much of our personal lives.
Across a wide spectrum of individuals, industries and interests, people are coming together to try to answer some of the biggest questions of the post-social media age;
What about my privacy?
What is my information being used for?
How do I best preserve my memory in the digital age?
How do I tell my story?
What do I want to leave behind?
Who do I want to see my story?
Are we using technology to connect or is it making us more isolated?
How can I use technology in a healthy way?
Answering these questions and solving the issues they bring is our mission at Reliving, and we’ve discovered there’s a lot of like-minded people and organisations out there trying to do the same. Some of these questions are too big to try to solve ourselves so we’ve formally partnered with some amazing people to help!
We wanted to use this blog post to highlight the incredible work they are doing and talk a little bit about how we’re going to work together.
Recording life stories
A little about Duncan Raban
Duncan Raban has a brilliant background in celebrity photography. He is now concentrating on encouraging people to #justsayhello to other people, hoping to reduce loneliness and to celebrate people in general.
As well as Just Say Hello (70k followers on Facebook) Duncan is now creating video content for us at Reliving. The videos are focussed on celebrating the older generation.
We are proud to introduce our partnership with Duncan Raban who will be creating video content for us, focusing on celebrating the older generation and helping to end loneliness.
Preserving memories through capturing and storing life stories
Preserving the biographies of our elder family members first hand is crucial to capturing the truth of their lives. What better way to do this, then to use a form of media that our younger audiences are already familiar with?
Capturing the biographies of our older generation is an important part of preserving their memories, holding onto their valuable life experiences and earned life advice.
We believe this precious insight of their lives needs to cherished and passed onto future generations for the greatest understanding of the times they lived which made them the people they were.
While understanding our elder members of society we can gain respect and understanding for them.
Bridging intergeneration gaps through technology
In this day and age, it seems there is a growing intergenerational gap. With social media, consumerism, advertisements and more, our society today has a huge influence over people to focus on their individual selves.
As a result, family values, a sense of community and even respect and care for the elderly aren’t as strong as they once were.
With a focus on closing the growing intergenerational gap, the videos produced by Just Say Hello are an effective way of engaging our younger audience with our societies most experienced members. Duncan is determined to remind people to ‘just say hello’, to end the loneliness that our older community often feels.
YouTube is the second most popular social media platform after Facebook, with over 1.9 billion active users worldwide. With a whopping 90% of these users are aged between 18- 44 years old, making YouTube a perfect platform connecting our content on the elderly to our young.
You can view Duncan Raban’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8kwOuv5UCkqjJmAIYQxAQg
You can also reach his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/justsayhellotoday/
You can view some of his content including his ‘fabulous oldies’ section, this story is about one tooth, Jeff:
Who are the Hospice Biographers?
The Hospice Biographers are a small charity with big ambitions.
They have a growing network of specialist volunteers ‘Hospice Biographers’ which offer patients facing the end of their life the therapeutic benefit of being able to ‘tell their story.’
They are expanding with the aim of supporting over two hundred hospices across the U.K within the next five years and the recordings they facilitate mean that the families and friends of their patients will still be able to hear their voices and precious memories for generations to come.
They also provide (on loan + free of charge) broadcast-quality audio recorders to each and every participating hospice so that these precious voices can be recorded with clarity and care.
What is their mission?
Therapy: To offer therapeutic comfort to those facing end of life, by giving them the opportunity to reflect upon everything that they have done and also giving them an audio legacy to leave behind for their loved ones should they wish.
Silence: To fill the gap of the lonely silence someone’s death creates with the precious sound of their voice.
Care: To listen with care and encourage the capture of those memories which are deemed most precious to our patients and their families.
Recording those who are excluded by society: They work hard to record the life stories of the end of life prisoners, travellers and the homeless people who are being cared for by their local hospices.
Life story library: They hope to have recorded hundreds of thousands of life stories on audio so that with patient permission to one day create their very own National Life Story Library.
Filming young mums and dads: To record on film the life stories of the very young end of life parents whose children may otherwise never know them.
Children’s hospices: Introducing their professionally trained biographers to all of Britain‘s 200 hospices, a small proportion of which provide services for end of life children. For children’s hospices, we will be offering the option of film as well as audio recordings.
Parents of end of life children: They also extend their free of charge services to any parents who wish Hospice Biographers to document their own lives on film or audio during this challenging period.
Why have we partnered with them?
Reliving is working with the Hospice Biographers to build a national library of knowledge that is not currently documented anywhere. This knowledge will be in the form of audio records (from The Hospice Biographers) and video from the Reliving platform.
We want this library to illustrate the incredible diversity of people’s lives, focusing on their unique and personal stories. History is mostly told in big national political and military events and often in that process, we have lost what normal life was like for our ancestors, what made them happy? What were their struggles? When we hear or read these personal stories we understand that although the world has changed, people are still the same.
We hope this national library will inspire and educate future generations on what life was truly like in our times.
Improving mental health
Through technological developments, society has made huge advancements, especially within the last two decades. This advancement looks to be exponential, but in many ways our society is regressing. This is especially true in the mental health space.
Our partners Chasing the Stigma, highlight that there is an increase in suicides across the board, with an 83% increase for girls aged 10-24 since 2012. Also, self-harm rates among school-aged children are increasing, with approximately 110,000 children aged 14 engaging in an act of self-harm in 2018.
It’s hard to determine what exactly is causing this increase in mental health issues. But one thing for certain is that we can use technology to our advantage in tackling these issues. As we have previously highlighted in our other posts, studies show that journaling, goal setting and genealogy have a number of positive mental health benefits, you can read about this here.
How the Reliving journaling feature helps improve mental health:
Journaling is an effective way of relieving stress and improving mental health.
Writing our thoughts and feelings down can help us clear our minds and deal with the problems we face. This, in turn, helps us relieve stress and improve on the state of our mental health.
There are many ways to relieve stress through different types of journaling.
- Gratitude journaling: Reflecting on the things in your life that make you happy on a daily basis can build long-term resilience which in turn reduces stress. You also have a nice record of the things that you are grateful for that will be nice to read back on. – Especially useful for when you may feel down in the future and need reminding of the things that make you appreciate in life.
- Emotional Release: Writing about how certain events throughout your day made you feel is a great way of relieving stress. Writing about your emotions forces you to think deeply and honestly about them, enabling you to process how and why it made you feel a certain way.
- Goal Tracking: Tracking your tasks and goals for each day is a good way to feel organised and not forget what you need to do. Writing down these actions keep your mind from clutter and help you prioritise what’s important to you, therefore reducing stress.
- Writing about past traumatic experiences: Studies have found that writing about past events that have been unpleasant or traumatic to you is a great therapy for overcoming your fears and anxieties. Recording your thoughts and feelings about your life has tremendous advantages to yourself. It will help you process internal struggles and confusion and help you deal with future scenarios.
Diary writing is a form of self-expression, revealing to us our innermost complex thoughts and feelings. Writing about these can help us deal with our inner conflictions which give us understanding.
Our partners in the mental health space:
Swansea University: Cherish- De
We are working and taking the advice of Cherish-De, the Digital Economy Research Centre at Swansea University.
Cherish, is about putting people at the heart of digital and technological innovation. Cherish is working with us to help make sure that our platform can help to tackle the problems in society. They are particularly passionate about shining a positive light on the use of technology, changing people’s frightened perceptions on how technology can be used for good.
Why have we partnered with them?
We are working with the research and development team at Cherish-De to explore our design features in our existing Reliving app, and make necessary additions to help support people living with mental health problems, and to be used as a tool to promote mindfulness.
Who is Chasing the Stigma?
Chasing the Stigma is a Mental Health Charity which aims to normalise and humanise Mental Illness.
Through Chasing the Stigma, Jake aims to remove the stigma attached to mental health and encourage people to talk openly about their issues. This came about after Jake’s own mental health suffered resulting in an attempt to take his own life.
Why have we partnered with Chasing the Stigma?
Reliving are working with Chasing the Stigma and their founder, comedian and writer, Jake Mills to promote mental health issues in the UK.
We are currently working on a few campaigns with Chasing the Stigma that will be promoted in the new year.
We believe there are stages to overcoming mental health issues.
Stage one: Understanding yourself. Through using our daily journal and emotion tracker you can make a note each day of what you’re going through.
Stage two: Speaking with family, friends or a network of support through the Hub of Hope.
The Hub of Hope is a first of its kind, national mental health database which brings together organisations and charities, large and small, from across the country who offer mental health advice and support, together in one place.
Who is HCE Medical?
HCE is a leading supplier of medical equipment around the world.
Why have we partnered with them?
HCE Medical are promoting Reliving as their preferred software to tackle mental health.
We are to be featured in their catalogue that 20,000 copies will be distributed to every NHS practice and occupational health organisation in the UK. This issue will be released in January.
The promotion will be focused on our daily journal, the emotion tracker, family memory sharing and interviewing family feature to learn and develop from their experiences.
For more information on these features see our blog post: Write a diary entry expressing your feelings.
Improving Dementia Care
Our application Reliving is well-suited to the use of people living with dementia to aid in their care through daily planning, journaling, and even as a way to practice reminiscence therapy to help combat effects of dementia and in particular, Alzheimer’s.
We are working with a few different partners in the dementia space:
Cardiff University– The Madeline Project: Memory Jar
What is the Madeline Project?
The Madeline Project is a development by founder Madeline Phillips, who herself was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She has created a project called the Memory Jar in Cowbridge, which provides a meeting space for people with mild to moderate dementia and their carers. This space is for the people to feel welcome, share memories, meet new people and engage in activities in a caring and supportive environment.
The project has expanded to bigger things. Madeline now works with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, the three local medical practices, three universities, the Cardiff and Vale Memory Unit and a wide range of other statutory and voluntary agencies. The aim of the project is to provide a coherent and comprehensive approach to dementia education, diagnosis and care for the local region, and to provide a model that can be replicated across Wales and further afield.
Why have we partnered with Cardiff University?
That’s where we come in!
We are working with the Madeline Project at Cardiff University to use our software as a way to help reminiscence therapy.
Our product will be used in the Memory Jar groups as a bucket of media and experiences for groups. Our interview feature will also be used to interview people living with dementia to understand and share their life stories.
What is reminiscence therapy?
Reminiscence therapy involves accessing memories seeded through positive experiences in the past. RT can involve discussing and sharing those nostalgic moments, but the focus is more on re-capturing the wonderful and positive emotions and feelings that they evoke.
Although the memory capacity in most dementia cases is severely impacted, the part of the brain that stores the happy and positive memories is still intact. The problem lies with the pathways that gain access to that part of the brain.
Senior Comfort Guide gives a fantastic analogy to better describe this:
“The analogy would be to a having a laptop computer which won’t turn on but it’s hard to drive still hosts all the pc files. Without a power source, there is no way to access the information stored on that device.”
Benefits of RT
While used in therapeutic sessions, anyone can reminisce old memories with a loved one. It can bring a whole range of positive benefits that increase a sense of belonging, value, importance, pride and peace. Drastically reducing stress and opening up the person to feel more comfortable and confident.
Sharing in this special moment will help strengthen relationships and it can even teach loved ones about who they were and what they did. This powerful connection can help both the individual and the family and friends.
Reminiscence therapy has even been proven to enhance cognitive capacity in people with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. It can also improve their ability in daily activities and improve quality of life and communication.
It is important to stimulate and try to include all the senses in reminiscence therapy to increase the ability to remember memories.
Ways the Reliving app helps aid reminiscence therapy
Accessing and looking at photographs
The Reliving app allows users to upload, store, and access photos all in a private and secure place, which is accessible anytime and at anyplace. There is also an unlimited amount of images or video that can be uploaded due to cloud-based storage.
The benefits: Looking at old photos can help both early-stage and late-stage dementia stimulate their precious memories. Reminiscing over old photographs can transport a person with dementia to a time when they were confident and happy. More importantly, it can ignite memories of loved ones in their lives.
While day-to-day memories are easily forgotten, old photos can trigger moments from long- ago strengthening the pathways to where the brain stores your long-term memory. It can evoke more memories and get the person to open up about a forgotten time in their lives.
Creating a digital Memory Book
Creating a memory book is the best way to relook over certain photos. You can organise the photos in order of their life or events. It can be used throughout the process as dementia progresses. The familiarity can help the person greatly. Memory books can include more than just pictures, they can include important documents and certificates to evoke memories. A memory book can be used by different carers, friends and family when spending time with the individual.
Using the Reliving app can allow you to make memory books. Having a digital memory book has a range of benefits including the ability to track and make notes on life events and past stories. The digital memory book can be adapted over time. You can add/ remove images, videos, voice recordings or documents.
Reliving has a voice recording feature. A beneficial part of reminiscence therapy can be listening to themselves singing, especially if they enjoyed singing in past times. Re-playing the recording can induce happy feelings, pride and laughter. But do be careful with this as it could also embarrass them if they are insecure about their voice.
Talking about past events
Talking about the past can be very powerful for reminiscence therapy. Giving the opportunity to recall their precious and favourite memories can give them confidence. You should make notes as they speak and tell you about their life events. This is important as you’ll have a list of information to ask about next time. It’s also a wonderful way to begin creating a biography of their life. The reliving app is designed with an interview feature, making the recording of their life stories easier. You can safely save the interview of their life story via video or voice recording. It can be accessed anytime. Plus, you have a digital capsule of their life story forever to treasure, recorded in their own voice and in the first person.
For more information on reminiscence therapy and how our app can help, read our post here on Caring for someone with dementia.
Debbie Abrahams is currently the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth. Debbie is passionate about helping people with dementia. She has a wealth of connections and has helped us immensely in the dementia space.
While we have looked at how our app helps reminiscence therapy, we also have a journaling feature that can be used as an effective way for people living with dementia and their carers to cope better.
You can read our previous post here on the benefits of journaling to see how our diary writing feature can help aid dementia.
We would love to hear from you!
We are so proud of the groups and partners who we have the amazing opportunity to work with. If any of our work reaches you, and you’d like to work with us, please do not hesitate to get in contact. We would love to hear from you and expand into more projects that fit our mission.