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Family friendly workshop highlights healthy ageing to combat dementia

EDGE Hill University researchers and Aughton and Ormskirk u3a welcomed more than 170 visitors to a workshop to highlight healthy ageing and combat dementia.  The Healthy Brain Showcase featured talks and discussion on healthy ageing and memory, in addition to dance performances and crafting.  The event was part of the Ageing Better with an Active Mind research project which aims to encourage healthy ageing in Lancashire and Merseyside, where the elderly population with dementia is higher than the national average.

Dr Dorothy Tse, senior lecturer in psychology and principal investigator, said:- "This event was a great opportunity to engage with the whole community, to improve people's understanding of healthy ageing, promote a better understanding of brain health and raise awareness of key actions to reduce the risk of dementia."

The co-principal investigator Dr Nicola van Rijsbergen added:- "Ultimately we want to inspire behaviour change within communities across Lancashire and Merseyside and show people how they can take positive steps to improve their brain health."

At the workshop the team presented and discussed the findings of a consultation with members of u3a which explored themes of memory and dementia, how physical activity benefits the brain, neuroscience, brain health and the active mind.

Alan Buckley, a u3a member who took part in the previous workshops, said:- "Dementia affects so many people but it is so complex, so to have better awareness of the disease and how it can affect you is really useful in understanding how we can reduce its effects. We have to do something about it at an early stage instead of letting it progress."

Fellow member Sue Buckley added:- "It was interesting to focus on something which is already close to our hearts, I was absolutely amazed to find the link between physical activity and mental activity."

Attendees described the Healthy Brain showcase as:- "a fabulous day," "interesting and entertaining," "an excellent event for the local community," "well organised and presented" and said "the speakers were all excellent."

Speakers included Dr Jitka Vseteckova, senior lecturer in health and social care from The Open University, Dr Jade Thai, programme manager of neuroscience and mental health at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Carol Rogers MBE, Director of House of Memories at National Museums Liverpool.

Organisations and charities also attended with stalls hosted by The Brain Charity, the Liverpool based Women's Health Information and Support Centre (WHISC), Age UK Lancashire and the National Museums Liverpool initiative House of Memories.

There were dance performances by u3a members, Edge Hill's James Hewison with the Hard-Wired project, 50 Moves, Men Dancing and Base Dance Performing Arts, and the University's Confucius Institute led crafts such as calligraphy and Chinese paper cutting.

The research project showcase is funded by Edge Hill's Institute for Social Responsibility and the Department of Psychology.

Digital switchover alert as delays could put lives at risk and stifle growth, Councils warn

VITAL telecare equipment used by nearly 2 million older and disabled people, as well as traffic lights and cash machines, could cease to operate unless Councils get more support with preparing for the upgrade to next generation digital networks.

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is based on copper wires, will be switched off by 2025 as the UK's telecoms infrastructure is upgraded to digital connectivity. Some devices including:- traffic light management systems and ATM machines will need to be reconnected, upgraded or replaced altogether so they can be used on the new network.

The Local Government Association; which represents Councils in England and Wales; said that other services which rely on the existing copper wire network, such as personal alarms and telephone handsets used by older and disabled people to live independently at home, are at risk unless more is done to help with the switchover to new fibre broadband.

It says Government plans such as Project Gigabit to ensure everyone can access fast and reliable broadband will encourage the digital rollout, but this could be undermined if existing devices cannot connect to the latest equipment or are not replaced.

While the upgrading of the privately-owned PSTN is being undertaken by the telecoms industry, the LGA says Councils need greater support with data sharing, testing, awareness and funding to prepare their residents for the switchover, alongside better coordination from Government.

Keeping data safe and preventing it from being sold on are among the issues raised by Councils. An exclusive survey by the LGA found almost 40 per cent of Councils responding do not yet know how they will pay for the move to digital telecare, in the wake of Local Government funding reductions over the last decade.

Councils are also concerned about a huge lack of awareness among residents about the incoming changes and the need for Government to spread the message through communications campaigns, including adequate funding to support the above.

They also are demanding reassurance from telecoms providers that they will do all they can to support their vulnerable customers through the switchover process and beyond, including ensuring power back up support to keep devices running when PSTN is switched off.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, LGA Digital Connectivity spokesperson, said:- "Councils have a critical role to play in the digital switchover which is fast approaching and will impact on a whole range of vital services, including in adult social care. Our survey shows that unless action is taken now to support Councils to help their residents and suppliers with this change, we face the prospect of serious disruption to people's lives, including most urgently those who use personal devices such as alarms and fall detectors to stay safe in their own homes. While we want to see every part of the country benefit from the digital rollout, we need to make sure no 1 is left behind and potentially at risk, whether it be someone living at home on their own in need of support, or people going about their daily lives waiting at the traffic lights or withdrawing cash from an ATM. Expanding high-speed digital access is essential to economic growth, but it should not be at the expense of those who are older and more vulnerable, who rely on their devices and other services to maintain their independence, safety and wellbeing."

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