A Ballymoney-born university lecturer whose mum has Alzheimer’s disease is the top fundraiser in a charity running challenge supporting dementia research.
Former Dalriada student, Dr Ian Elliott, a senior lecturer in business and public services at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has so far raised around £1,700 from taking part in Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Running Down Dementia challenge.
The 39-year-old was inspired by his mum, Mary, to sign up for the campaign, which challenges people to run or walk 100km before the end of August and raise £100. She ran a post office in Ballyboyland for around 40 years but is now living in a care home having had Alzheimer’s for around a decade.
Ian said: “My mum was always very hard-working and independent and after 50 years of working life she now doesn’t have the retirement she deserves. Dementia has really limited her independence.
“When she started getting symptoms she was very much in denial. She refused to see a doctor or seek any help.
“She didn’t get diagnosed until it was quite progressed. It was only around four years ago when she was hospitalised with a bad infection and it was clear she needed full-time care, that she was officially diagnosed, but she probably had symptoms for 10 years.
“At first it was just mood changes that were obvious, she didn’t seem like her usual self. She started withdrawing into herself, retreating and not doing things she used to do. For example, she was very house proud and always cleaned the house every night, but she suddenly stopped doing it.
“She had to give up work. She was really committed to serving the community and loved running the post office, talking to people and helping them.
“Her Alzheimer’s is quite far progressed now, but there are still the occasional moments of lucidity and times when she still laughs, which is lovely. She can’t talk very much, but she will try to say words and she can still communicate through laughter.”