Alzheimer’s Society is celebrating ten years of its online forum, Talking Point this week. Older than popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, Talking Point is a lifeline for over 100,000 people with dementia and carers who visit the site each month.
The forum offers peer-to-peer online support for anyone affected by dementia. Users can ask each other for advice, share information, join in discussions and feel supported by others who have been through similar experiences. It has 25,000 members and there are up to 400 people logged on at any one time. It is moderated by a team of eleven volunteers.
Talking Point was launched in March 2003, and was the idea of technical writer Craig Clarke, who approached Alzheimer’s Society because he was caring for his father Peter, who had mixed dementia. Craig from Richmond in Surrey said:
‘When my Dad was diagnosed, I turned to the internet for information and support. Through the Alzheimer’s Society website I found lots of useful information, but there was no way of talking to other people going through the same thing. Talking Point is the best thing that came out of dad's illness and I'm forever grateful to Alzheimer's Society for embracing my idea.’
Each month over 1,000 new discussions take place. Recent conversations have focused on topics such as how to arrange a lasting power of attorney, how to cope with challenging behaviour and how best to talk to children about dementia. Craig continued:
‘I’m so thrilled with how the forum has grown and developed over the years. I know first-hand what a difference it can make to people's lives, and I still take great pride in knowing that it supports so many people every single day. My father passed away in 2012, but I’m still involved as a moderator, helping to welcome and guide new users as they join us online.’
Katherine Watt, Talking Point Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘The aim of Talking Point is to reduce isolation and offer support to anyone affected by dementia. Some people might not be able to access other Alzheimer’s Society services or they may simply want to remain anonymous – Talking Point offers a lifeline to these people.
‘It is with thanks to the fantastic volunteers who moderate Talking Point that it has been able to grow so huge in just ten years.’
To celebrate their groundbreaking forum’s birthday Alzheimer’s Society has created an infographic to represent the key facts and statistics from ten years online. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/tpinfographic to find out more.