One element that fascinates me about blogging is which topics get the most attention from readers. There is no particular formula for how I choose what to write about, so to see what becomes most widely read is really informative for me.
To round-off 2015, I wanted to compile a blog that reflects the posts on D4Dementia that have been read the most. With over 170 entries on a variety of topics relating to dementia, health and social care, there is certainly plenty of subject matter to trawl through, and for me, many fond memories of writing particular blogs.
So (drum roll) here is my top 10 to date:
Published in May 2015, this post focuses on the language used in relation to dementia, a topic that always ignites passionate responses. The inspiration behind this particular post was the Dementia Action Alliance and DEEP (Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project) Call to Action entitled ‘Dementia Words Matter’.
Published in November 2012, this post focuses on the drive to change the name of dementia to ‘Major or Minor Neurocognitive Disorder’. Unsurprisingly, as it’s another post focused on language around dementia, it has been a very popular read.
Published in May 2013, this is the first of what I’d call my ‘practical advice’ posts to feature in the top 10. Hydration is such a key topic in dementia care, so I’m delighted it has been so widely read.
Published in June 2012, this post remains one of my personal favourites. I’ve written extensively about the role of family carers since ‘The carer’s job description’, but I don’t think I’ve ever improved upon how I opened this particular blog:
“If you had to be isolated, unsupported and fight the system, would you apply to be an unpaid carer? This is not a position that fills you with hope for the future, gives you room for personal development, or brings the benefits of structured team work. Yet thousands of people fulfil this truly unique role; not because it was their dream job and certainly not because of the bonuses and benefits.”
Published in July 2013, this is the second of my ‘practical advice’ blog posts to make it into the top 10. Although I’ve never been entirely happy to categorise any dementia symptom as ‘aggression’, largely because I think the bluntness of that language helps to reinforce stigmatised views about people who are living with dementia, I hope the wording is forgiven in favour of some of the really important points in the blog that I wanted to put across in the most straightforward way possible.
Published in June 2012, this is easily the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written. Discussing my dad’s end-of-life care for the first time was very emotional, and I remember reading the blog back to myself for the first time after I’d written it and the tears streaming down my face.
4 – Caught on camera
Published in October 2013, this is perhaps the most controversial blog post in my top 10. It explores the use of hidden cameras in care homes, a topic that remains hugely divisive to this day.
Published in June 2013, I’d like to think that the inclusion of this blog post at number 3 in the top ten is testimony to the real groundswell of opinion that the voices of people with personal experience of dementia, whether they are living with a diagnosis of dementia or a past or present carer, should always be heard at any and every event about dementia. Sadly I think there is still a long way to go to make this a reality, but since I wrote this post things have moved in a more positive direction around including and valuing personal experiences.
Published in September 2012, this is another of my personal favourites, a blog post all about busting myths and challenging stigma. I’ve written about dementia awareness many times since this blog post, but the basic messages in this particular piece are as relevant now as they were then. Written before we had ‘Dementia Friends’ and some of the other high-profile awareness-raising initiatives, this was a real trail-blazer blog post for me, and one that I still see referenced on social media.
And at number one….
1 – Hard to swallow
Published in September 2012, I honestly never imagined that when I wrote a blog on dysphagia (swallowing problems) that it would attract such a wide and extensive readership. I suspect the popularity of this post is testimony to the fact that trying to find out essential information about this common aspect of dementia care is difficult for both families and professionals alike. Nothing makes me happier than to know it has been so widely read, and judging by the feedback I’ve received the advice in this blog has been extremely helpful to numerous people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
So there you have it, my top ten most read D4Dementia blog posts. What this list tells me overall is that practical advice really reigns supreme when it comes to blogging about dementia. ‘Hard to Swallow’ isn’t at number one by a narrow margin – to put this into context, it’s been read by as many people as numbers 2-5 combined.
Of the remaining ‘practical advice’ blog posts in the top ten, I’m not at all surprised to see my blogs featuring tips to keep a person with dementia hydrated and how to understand and cope with aggression are both really popular reads. Just missing out on the top 10 were my blogs on understanding how a person with dementia expresses themselves and how to promote continence and cope with incontinence, which only reinforces in my mind that readers really value the chance to explore our personal experiences as a family, alongside gaining tips and advice for coping themselves.
Of the remaining posts, to see end-of-life care at number 5 proves that a topic so many of us shy away from needs to be tackled, and of course from a personal perspective, to see my first major blog on family carers being so widely read is a real plus point for me. Dementia language and awareness were, I think, always likely to feature given the growing prominence of both issues, and dovetails rather neatly with the messages in my blog post about involving people with personal experience of dementia. Finally, of course, tackling a controversial issue like cameras in care homes inevitably draws attention – hopefully it has also helped to provide some clarity on a topic that divides opinions.
As this will be my last D4Dementia blog post of 2015, all that remains is for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. I hope the festive season brings you joy and many treasured memories. Mine will be my first as a new mum, and I will perhaps reflect on this next year. D4Dementia returns in January, with the first blog post planned to go live on Monday 11 January.
Thank you for your amazing support during 2015. Here’s looking forward to 2016!