“Knowing there’s support out there means everything”

Bob and Debbie Catley, Assistant Co-ordinator

Bob and Debbie Catley, Assistant Co-ordinator, Peer Support Group

Bob, 66, of Headingley, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over three years ago. At first, he was overwhelmed by the diagnosis and became deeply depressed. But attending a support group and sharing experiences with others who are also living with dementia has helped Bob to turn his life around.

“Finding out I had dementia answered a lot of questions for me and my wife about why I was acting differently. I was swearing, getting angry and forgetting to do simple things, which was completely out of character for me.

‘When the peer support service came into my life, I was in a very bad way. They invited me to meetings to talk to other people with dementia. After a while, I realised that other people were doing and thinking things I thought only I was. I got a bit more confidence to open up – that’s when you start feeling better. We all help each other and when you start to get into it, it’s actually a lot of fun. Knowing that there’s support out there means everything.

‘Now, my weeks are busy. I go to a men’s group, out for coffee every other week, groups at the playhouse, discovery centre and the art gallery amongst other things. It’s good because your brain stays active and you can start to really enjoy life again.

‘Without peer support and the other dementia support groups, I probably wouldn’t have coped. I’ve changed a lot, I’m more confident and generally happier within myself. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve still got Alzheimer’s and it’s not going to get any better – if anything, it will get steadily worse. But I try to live one day at a time. I don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, I just get up thinking ‘I’m going to have a good day’ and, most days, it works.”

Peer support groups are run by Adult Social Care in partnership with local organisations. They help people to share their experiences and are open to anyone who is living with dementia in Leeds. For more information call 07891 271980 or email deborah.marshall@leeds.gov.uk.

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