Dementia warning: People urged to live healthier lives

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A campaign aimed at reducing people's risk of developing dementia by 60% is to be launched by the Welsh Government.

It said more than 42,000 people are currently being treated for the disease in Wales.

The Dementia Risk Reduction Campaign will be launched on Friday, with a 10-day road show visiting large shopping centres and employers.

Its aim is to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles.

The campaign follows research by Prof Peter Elwood at Cardiff University, who found a healthier life can reduce a person's risk of getting early onset dementia.

His study - over 35 years looking at people in Caerphilly - found a "huge benefit".

media captionProf Peter Elwood: Healthy lifestyle 'better than any pill'

Last month, the Alzheimer's Society said experts fear numbers of sufferers could rise by 40% in the next 10 years.

Dementia is now the leading cause of death in England and Wales, with the charity saying it costs Welsh society £1.4bn a year.

One man who has started living a healthier lifestyle is Norman Parselle, 47, from Newport, who lost both his parents to dementia.

He joined a walking football club 18 months ago to improve his physical and mental health and said: "Who knows what's around the corner for any of us?

"But I do know that lack of physical activity, isolation and depression can contribute to the decline of people with dementia, so keeping fit and active, and socialising with friends may reduce the risk of getting dementia."

Quality life

In Dr Elwood's Caerphilly Cohort Study, he looked at the lifestyle habits of middle-aged men from 1979 to 2014.

He monitored factors that contribute to diseases like cancer and dementia, like smoking, diet and exercise.

One participant was Leighton Jones, 82, who believes a healthy lifestyle is why he has so far avoided serious health problems, including dementia.

He credited his wife's home cooked meals and the couples' lifelong love of physical activity.

"Longevity of life is useless unless you have quality," he said.

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