Lisburn man holds 36-hour 'Zoomathon' for dementia awareness

A Lisburn man has challenged himself to a 36-hour 'Zoom marathon' in an effort to raise awareness for dementia in Northern Ireland.

David Gallagher, who is a longtime volunteer with the Belfast Central Mission, has been raising awareness and funds for the organisation's new residential care home on the Co Down coast.

He said: "The Belfast Central Mission will be opening a new facility down in Millisle for dementia nursing residential care. It's been a long journey of ten years."

The residential and dementia care home on the Co. Down coast has been ten years in the making. Credit: Belfast Central Mission

‘David’s Chat Challenge’ has seen him speak with people from all over the world on the hour, every hour for the duration of the task.

"It's like running a 36-hour marathon," he said. "You need people to join you."

He has also said he hopes the efforts will "widen the debate in the public about being dementia-aware."

Recent surveys suggest that people with dementia have been badly affected throughout the pandemic.

Dementia is the most common pre-existing condition associated with Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland. Credit: UTV

An Alzheimer's Society study revealed that 82% of almost 2,000 respondents from across the UK reported a deterioration in people with dementia’s symptoms since the first lockdown was introduced in 2020.

While NISRA statistics show that it is the most common pre-existing condition associated with Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland.

David has chosen 36-hours as his target as his original plan had been to walk the 36 miles between Magheralin, where his mother had lived, and Millisle where the facility is situated.

“It will provide practice-leading dementia care and my mother lived with the condition for the last years of her life, so I know how important it is to have a secure, safe and comfortable space.”

David has been speaking with people from Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and beyond. Credit: UTV

While 'Zoom Fatigue' may have set in since the since the pandemic and lockdown hit, such online video-calling platforms have allowed many to remain in contact with family and friends.

David said: "At the end of the day, we're all social animals and we need social interaction. It's the human contact that is very important."

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