A former banker diagnosed with vascular dementia has told of how he is now "living life to the full" six years after receiving the devastating news.

Ian Sloan, 74, of Egremont, says he "went home and cried" after being told he had the incurable condition, believing his life was over.

But his outlook changed dramatically after his wife Sheila attended a special workshop to learn more about the brain disease, which Ian developed following a stroke in 2005.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say the change has been totally amazing,” said Ian. “I now realise that my life is not over – it has simply entered another phase.”

The transformation came about after Sheila attended a workshop held locally by The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in Stirling, Scotland, last year.

The workshops give carers a greater insight into dementia, enabling them to see it from the perspective of the person living with the condition.

Ian said: “The first thing Sheila did when she came home was to apologise to me as she felt she had let me down in the way she had cared for me.

“Being able to see things from the viewpoint of someone with dementia had a huge impact on her.

“She now has a much better understanding of why I behave the way I do and how to cope – and that knowledge has greatly enhanced both of our lives.”

Alzheimer’s Society – the UK’s leading dementia charity – says the condition is the country’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.

Yet despite this, it is widely misunderstood, with many people believing dementia is a natural part of ageing and that those diagnosed with it can no longer play an active part in the community.

This is a misconception Ian and Sheila want to correct – and Ian has already taken steps to address this by becoming a member of both his local Dementia Friendly Community and the Patient Participant Group at his local GP Practice.

He said: “People living with dementia are stigmatised and that is completely wrong. Dementia is a disease like any other disease, but a disease of the brain... it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, almost 8,000 of them in Cumbria.

While he has turned a corner, Ian admits he was not an easy person to live with following his diagnosis.

He said: “Sheila gave up her job in 2015 to become a full-time carer and for a while life did become easier for us both.

“But I must confess that I aggravated the situation by sitting back and enjoying the attention I was getting.

“If I’m honest, I was being a bit of a prat because I just gave up. For about three years I had absolutely no confidence.

“I felt totally useless because I thought I had let Sheila down as I could no longer provide the support she needed. She was completely worn out having to deal with everything on her own.”

During those dark days, Ian felt unable to venture out of the house, convinced that people were staring at him and that his condition was visible to everyone.

He also became anxious and depressed whenever Sheila needed to leave him alone, even if only for a short while, leaving her feeling trapped.

Sheila, whose mum Miriam died with dementia two years ago, said: “After Ian’s diagnosis dementia ruined our lives for three years, but thankfully the workshop changed everything.

“I now understand that Ian’s behaviour makes sense to him and that he’s lost the ability to take on board other people’s point of view.

“We’re in a much better place now – we have our retirement back and there’s a lot to look forward to.”

After Sheila attended the workshop, Ian was invited to speak at an International Masterclass in Stirling run by the DSDC, delivering a speech about the changes implemented by himself and Sheila following their learning.

It was something he would not have even contemplated previously, but having regained his confidence thanks to Sheila, he embraced the challenge.

Today the couple take pleasure in simple things like taking their dog Finn for a walk or a trip to the shops, but they are also planning trips away.

Ian added: “My motto now is that it’s not what we are dealt with in life that is important, but how we deal with it.”

Kizzy Pyne, an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Support Worker who has worked closely with the couple, said: “The change I have seen in Ian has been astonishing – he has regained his confidence and is enjoying life again, which is wonderful to see.

“He is living proof that you can live well with dementia and provide positive contribution to your community. Life goes on and, with the right support, can be extremely rewarding.”