Life Stories and iPads: A New Way to Keep Memories

Eilish King shows us an innovative idea for recording, keeping and showing your treasured life experiences in electronic form…

  • We need to remember the important stories and memories of our lives.
  • You can collect pictures.
  • You can collect important things in a box to store your memories.
  • You can also use software to create a Life Story Book.
  • If you have an iPad, you can use some apps to help you create your Life Story Book.

Have you ever noticed that as we grow older it becomes harder to remember important stories and information about our lives? These memories hold lots of information about ourselves, and the way we like to live our lives. Life stories can be a good way of gathering up the stories and information about ourselves, so that we can make sure we continue to live our lives as we would like.

Life stories can be made in lots of different ways. One way is to make a collection of pictures, or collage, by gathering your favourite pictures of special events in your life. Another enjoyable way is to make a life story book.   Examples of a life story book, and a template for making your own, are available from the dementia UK website at Memory boxes are another good way of collecting important things that relate to special events in your life and store what is important to you in a special box.

You can also use an iPad to record your life story in lots of different ways, using photos, pictures, videos, music and voice recordings. Our team works with older people to help them create life stories using iPads, and we found a few apps that are easy to use and helpful, even for people who have never used iPads before.

This is how you do it:

Firstly, you may need someone to help you if you are new to working on an iPad. It can be very enjoyable to work with someone on making your life story, and share your life story with others.

  1. Gather together important and favourite photos, videos, and music. If the photos are not digital you can use the iPad to take pictures of them. You may have to edit them using the iPad so that they won’t be shiny.
  2. Download these free apps from the app store:
    1. “Our Story” app by the Open University (Free)
    2. “Niki Music” app by Alessandro La Rocca (approx. €0-88)
  3. The Life story book template has lots of headings and you can choose the ones you want to include in your life story. Examples of headings could be: About Me, My Home, Working Life, Important People, Special Events, Likes and Dislikes.
  4. Add whatever headings you like to your life story on the “Our Story” app.
  5. You can add photographs, words, videos and voice recordings to each heading. The app gives you more instructions on how to do this.
  6. Niki music app is easy to use, and instead of using the album title you can choose a picture for each song so that you can easily find your favourite music.

What I discovered when I worked with people who were working on their life story was that they really enjoyed doing it, and found that it increased their confidence in what they could do. They told me that it was a fun way to look back over important events in their lives, and that they enjoyed sharing them with others. For staff working with people with intellectual disabilities, it is a great way to get to know one another, and helps to make sure that in time staff will have a record, made by the person, of the important things in their lives.


The author would like to acknowledge all the advice, support and opportunities for learning on this topic provided by Dr Carolyn Shivers, Pamela Dunne, Stephanie Lynch, Ferrilyth Louw, Evelyn Reilly, Prof. Mary McCarron and Dr. Siobhan MacCobb.

Eilish King is a graduate of the Discipline of Occupational Therapy at Trinity College Dublin. She has worked with older people with intellectual disabilities to create life stories using iPads, as part of an interdisciplinary team project investigating the use of iPads to create life stories.



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