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New campaign as dementia tops health worries



Mark Drakeford: Minister for Health and Social Services

Mark Drakeford: Minister for Health and Social Services

NEW WELSH Government figures show 76% of people in Wales are worried about developing dementia later in life and more than half of people (60%) think if someone in their family has dementia they will develop it too.

The findings of a survey about dementia were published on Thursday (Feb 25) as the Minister for Health and Social Services launched a new campaign designed to helped everyone in Wales take simple steps to reduce their risk of developing dementia.

People are being encouraged to act now to reduce their risk as the latest figures show 42,000 people aged 30 or over are currently living with dementia in Wales.

The risk of developing dementia increases with age, as more people are living longer, the number of people developing dementia will grow.

Despite almost half of people surveyed (48%) believing there is nothing which can reduce the risk of developing dementia, evidence shows that a healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk by up to 60%. Making simple lifestyle changes, which are also good for the heart and lungs, will be good for the brain too.

The campaign, which will be launched across Wales with forgetme- not flowers projected onto landmark buildings in North and South Wales, encourages people to take six simple steps to reduce the risk of dementia.

The campaign calls for people to act now by making sure they; Stay active, Check their health regularly, try new things, reduce smoking, drink alcohol in moderation and watch their weight.

Last year, the Welsh Government committed £5.5m a year in extra funding to improve dementia support services in Wales and set new ambitious diagnosis targets. This year an extra £30m will be invested in older people’s mental health, which will include new support for dementia.

One person who has gone some way to change their lifestyle to help improve their health and reduce their dementia risk is 51-year-old Debbie James from Bridgend:

“I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors – a few years ago I joined an outdoor fitness group called Forces Fitness where we did circuit type training in the local park. It helped me get fit and had a really good social side to it.” She said.

“This then led me to get into cycling and I joined the Breeze Cycling Network which involved going out on bike rides with other ladies, and I then went on to set up my own ladies cycling group called Broadlands Ladies and Bikes.

“However, I wouldn’t call myself ‘sporty’, I’m just conscious that I want to take care of my health and wellbeing to help increase my chances of leading a longer, healthier and happy life ahead of me.

“For a while my exercise took a bit of a back seat as I was looking after my mum who had dementia. It took a lot out of me and I really missed the physical and social aspects of the classes I had been doing. Sadly my mum passed away in October last year.

“Since then I’ve got back into cycling with a group of local women. We meet up regularly to go for a cycle, and always stop for a coffee and a chat. As well as doing it for the physical health activity, I also do it for the social side. It’s great to be with like-minded people and have someone to have a chat to and share things with. I feel it really helps my over-all well-being.

“Having seen dementia first hand, and also currently going through it with my mother-in-law, I would recommend to everyone, however young you are, to get out there and be more active. You don’t have to be an athlete to join a local group, and there are so many social benefits as well. Who knows what the future holds, but we can all do something to keep ourselves as fit and healthy as possible.”

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The risk of dementia increases with age and as more people are living longer, the number of people developing dementia will grow.

“You are never too young to take some simple steps to improve both your physical and mental health as you age and hopefully reduce your risk of dementia and other diseases.

“We are committed to reducing the impact of dementia. That is why we are investing extra money; taking action to increase diagnosis rates and improve support for those with dementia.”

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend



WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales



THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo



A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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