Peter’s story (part two): ‘It was like someone had turned a light switch back on'

Peter’s dementia journey was turned around when he met Dementia Advisor Elaine. Read his full story this World Alzheimer's Day.

This World Alzheimer's Day (21 September) we're sharing the story of Peter Lyttle, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 58.

After a difficult diagnosis journey, Peter felt very alone and at times suicidal. You can read more about his experiences in part one of our blog series.

Peter’s journey turned around when he received an invitation from Alzheimer's Society to attend a coffee morning. It was here that he met Dementia Adviser Elaine and started feeling like himself again. Continue following his story below.

Peter's dementia story - part two

World Alzheimer's Day: Peter's story

The meeting that changed everything

At first, Peter felt embarrassed and slightly put out by Alzheimer’s Society’s invitation to a Dementia Café.  Everyone would be much older than him. But after promising his brother he’d try it, he went along anyway.

‘I went along and spoke to a Dementia Adviser called Elaine, who was running the event, and said thanks for inviting me, but I’m not staying because everyone here’s older than I am and I don’t think I fit in. She said: “That’s fine.” But as I turned to walk away she said: “Don’t think you’re going to get away so easily!”’

After only meeting briefly at the Café, Elaine decided to visit Peter the following morning for a chat. It was this chat which had a profound effect on him. They talked about Alzheimer’s Society and how people with dementia can still lead active and meaningful lives.

‘Within half an hour it was like someone had turned a light switch back on and I went back to being me. She just talked to me and explained various things.

‘She made me realise that there is life after your diagnosis. That lady saved my life, she really saved my life. I can never thank her enough for what she did.’

Meeting Elaine transformed Peter’s outlook, helping him regain his self-esteem and get his old confidence back.

‘If I have a problem I just pick up the phone – there’s always someone there,’ he says.

Living well with dementia

World Alzheimer's Day: Peter's story

Having had that light switch turned back on; Peter is proof that people can live well with dementia. He is now dedicated to helping others get over the shock of their diagnosis and get on with their lives in the best way they can.

‘I met Elaine on the Thursday and the following morning I was on the local radio telling my story. I haven’t stopped since.’

Since then Peter has been spreading the word that there is support out there. He volunteers with the Alzheimer's Society to ensure no-one else feels as isolated after their diagnosis as he did. He gives talks to medical students at colleges in Preston and Blackpool, and has started his own dementia café’s for people of his own age and their family and friends.

As a member of a Service User Review Panel, he also uses his experiences to influence the national work of Alzheimer’s Society and help make his local area more dementia friendly.

Peter’s attitude towards his dementia is nothing if not positive.

‘It’s not about me, it’s never been about me,’ he insists. ‘I just don’t want other people to go through what I went through. If you can help somebody, even if it’s just one person, then I think that’s brilliant.’

‘You’re only here once so you’ve got to make the most of it,’ he says.

To be continued…

Read the last part of Peter’s journey, where we’ll hear more about how he’s playing his part in the dementia movement. To receive an alert, please subscribe to our blog on the right-hand side of this page.

Unite against dementia

This World Alzheimer’s Day we want everyone to know Alzheimer's Society is here for anyone affected by dementia, so they can live their life as fully as possible. Just like Peter is.

Help us reach everyone affected by dementia. Unite against dementia today and donate.

National Dementia Helpline
Our helpline advisers are here for you.

3 comments

Add your own

It was wonderful to read Peters story showing what can be done. Some years ago my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and from the very outset at diagnosis there was a McMillan nurse who took over and showed us what to do. I think it would be wonderful if something like that was available for those with dementia and their families.I can't tell you how helpful it was to have a professional to help us.
I realise that things are difficult in the NHS these days but we can dream...

That would be great, especially for people like myself who live alone.👍

Peter's story is reminiscent of my husbands story too at the beginning, and it touches a chord. Joe, my husband was also diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, though later in life. But at the time we were both lost and isolated, but the introduction to Singing For the Brain, a service offered by the Alzheimers Society opened a new world for Joe- a world of angels. and today he manages much better than he will ever if he did not have this support. So glad for you too Peter.

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