Real life online
From the February / March 2018 issue of our magazine, read how our online community is offering invaluable support 24/7.
Talking Point is Alzheimer's Society's online community for people with dementia, carers and families. Anyone with an internet connection can share stories, concerns and advice at any time of day or night.
'Imagine having a group of supportive friends who understand what it's like to have dementia, or to care for someone who does. You can tell them how you're feeling or ask a question whenever you like,' says Serena Snoad, Online Community Manager.
Talking Point is supported by dedicated volunteers, all of who have personal experience of dementia.
Lynne McVicar became a member in 2012 after her husband was diagnosed with young-onset dementia, aged just 58.
'I honestly don't know what I would have done without it,' she says. 'It really helped to be in touch with people who were in the same or similar situations.'
Last year, having reduced her working hours, Lynne became a Talking Point volunteer moderator, ensuring that the site remains a safe and welcoming place for all.
'I was already sharing my experiences as a member, but it was important to me to give something back as I had benefited so much myself,' she says.
Lynne really enjoys the role, which she fits around caring for her husband, who is now in the more advanced stages of dementia.
'It has always been accepted that Niven's needs take priority,' she says. 'I have found it works really well, thanks to great team support.'
Izzy Duff joined Talking Point as a member in 2003, when her mother and husband were both living with dementia.
'The support from members was a godsend. It seemed to be the only place where you could ask a question and get a quick response from people who really understood what you were going through,' she says.
'I hope that my own experience will allow me to give members the kind of support I received,' says Izzy.
Having retired in 2010, Izzy (pictured) became a volunteer host - which involved welcoming and supporting new members - and later, a volunteer moderator.
'My husband died in July 2016 and I'm now seeing members go through what I went through,' she says.
'I hope that my own experience will allow me to give them the kind of support I received.
'Being a volunteer moderator helps me feel that I am doing something useful with the knowledge I have gained through my 15 years of caring.'
Talking Point recently underwent its most significant change since launching in 2003. It now works better on smartphones and tablets, while new features include an alerts system that tells members when they have replies or someone has mentioned them.
People affected by dementia and volunteers gave feedback as the new site was developed.
'Change is never easy, but it was good that a range of members were given the chance to trial it,' says Izzy.
'Being involved also helped me understand what members might be feeling as Talking Point changed.'
The input and support of Talking Point volunteers is vital to the service.
'You can't put a price on the value of personal experience,' says Serena.
'They are incredibly passionate, honest and committed - I can't imagine Talking Point without them.'