For three years Peter Hindley was a name on the lips of thousands of Posh fans with his energetic performances at right back making him a crowd favourite - but now his family say they have ‘lost’ him after a heartbreaking diagnosis meant he can no longer recognise his own wedding photos.
For the past 11 years Peter’s family have watched how dementia has slowly stripped their loved one of memories, relationships and identities .
Peter - known on the terraces as ‘Tank’ when he wore United blue in the late 1970s - was diagnosed with mixed dementia in 2007.
Daughter, Francine Lynas said: “We lost our dad 11 years ago which is strange when physically he is sat right in front of us.”
The condition Peter (whose 74th birthday is this week) has been diagnosed with means there is more than one type of dementia detected at the same time . Following his diagnosis, Peter needed a number of hospital stays and surgeries.
However, Peter continues to live at home with wife Sandra and has got involved with activities provided by Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre.
Sandra said Peter has ‘good days and bad days’. She said: “You are powerless to change anything. We can be looking back at old family photographs of holidays with the children, or even our wedding day, and Peter will struggle to tell you who people are.
“But give him an old football programme or a memorabilia book filled with images of his former teams in the 60s and 70s and he’d give you full names and where they are in photos in a flash.
“It has been very hard to watch Peter live with dementia, everyday can be different so we take it one step at a time.
“The support we have received from Alzheimer’s Society is wonderful. It’s a relief to know there is somewhere to turn to, even if it’s just to talk to people in similar situations.”
She added: “For the first 10 years of his diagnosis we didn’t attend any support groups or activities, we just manage ourselves with our own interests and hobbies.
“It’s only in the last few years that we have got involved with the local Dementia Resource Centre and other activity groups in the area. It has made such a difference for Peter to be socially active and it gives me a sense of relief that he’s in a safe environment where people understand how to talk and engage him.
“At home he loves doing jigsaw puzzles and we try to encourage cognitive stimulation wherever possible.”
First signs of struggle
Peter - who worked as a painter and decorator after hanging up his boots - was diagnosed after customers called to complain about his work - something that had never happened before.
Sandra said: “We started to get calls to say work was unfinished or parts were missing. Peter was always so meticulous so we couldn’t understand why. We had started to notice the odd forgetfulness at home, so we started to write things down and resigned to the fact we were just getting older.
“It wasn’t until one particular day when Peter left the house for work that about 15 minutes later I heard a thud outside the house. He had returned and managed to bump the car into a post. I’ll never forget his words, he just looked at me lost and said ‘I can’t remember where I was going or what I was going for’.
His family took him straight to the GP, and a short while later the diagnosis came through.
Following the diagnosis, the family were pleased to have the support of the ‘This is Me’ booklet – a document Alzheimer’s Society distributes to anyone newly diagnosed with dementia.
Peter’s daughter Leanne said: “We were informed about this by the charity and it’s simply a document where you input everything there is to know about the person living with dementia. “It even has a photograph inside so if a person were to go missing the authorities would have this to hand. This booklet made such a difference when my dad was last admitted to hospital.”
How you can help
Dementia is now the UK’s biggest killer - and residents are being urged to find out more about how they can help.
The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Action Week runs from Monday next week.
On Wednesday 23 May, Peterborough’s Dementia Resource Centre on Lincoln Road will reach out to anyone unable to access support services during the week. The centre will extend its opening hours until 8pm, recognising that people with a diagnosis of dementia, especially people with young-onset dementia and carers might still be working during the week. It will be a drop-in event for access to information, guidance and support.
Residents are also urged to become ‘ a dementia friend’ to help people suffering from the condition. People are also encouraged to set up a fundraising event to help fund research into dementia.
For more information visit www.alzheimers.org.uk or dementiafriends.org.uk .
You can call the Peterborough centre on 01733 893853.