Education on how to reduce the risk of dementia should be aimed at people in their 40s, experts have said.

Currently the dementia element of the NHS Health Check programme, often referred to as a midlife MOT, is available to people over 65 but Alzheimer's Research UK and the Alzheimer's Society are calling for the check to offer advice on the illness far earlier on.

The calls come from a study conducted by the two charities, and Public Health England found that 164, or 75 per cent, of 207 people polled would adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing dementia, while 80 per cent said that advice would have some impact on their behaviour.

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The charities are now calling for education on dementia to become mandatory in NHS Health Checks for people aged 40 and above. The education would include information on how keeping fit, eating healthily, keeping your brain active and not smoking could all reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Sarah Seale, who works for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as service manager and dementia lead at the South Derbyshire and Dales Neighbourhood Team, says: "It's definitely a good idea for all of us to think about staying healthy, so that we reduce the risk of dementia later in life.

"As the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer's Research UK point out, what we need is a mix of physical activity, healthy eating and mental stimulation. That means regular exercise – ideally for at least 30 minutes, five times a week; a balanced diet with lots of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil; and a daily brain 'workout' that could include reading, puzzles, or a good old natter with friends or fellow members of a club or group.

"It goes without saying, but smoking is a no-no."

People over the aged of 40 should be educated on dementia, experts say

A multi-million pound dementia centre will open in Burton next year to support people with the condition. The new centre will include space for family gatherings, room to keep pets and facilities such as a café and hairdressers.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer's Society, said: "It's great the NHS has already been equipping over 65s with ways to reduce their risks when they have annual check-ups.

"But, in terms of having the greatest impact on reducing dementia risk, we've been missing the boat.

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"Dementia takes hold of the brain decades before symptoms appear, so empowering people to get fit and eat healthier from age 40 is crucial if we're to reduce the number of people developing the condition.

"In the absence of a cure, risk reduction is a vital tool to fight dementia. With the condition set to be the 21st century's biggest killer, it's important that as a nation we unite against dementia and each of us do whhat we can to reduce our risk."

Staff from Derbyshire Healthcare will be holding a Dementia question and answer session at Oakland Village in Swadlincote on Thursday, September 7. The event is for anyone who has any questions about dementia and will run from 6.30pm until 8.30pm. For more information, call the team on 0300 123 3376.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a brain condition that can cause memory loss and difficulty with thinking, problem-solving or speech. Someone suffering with dementia will normally experience these effects partially at first, but these will often become more severe over time.

Dementia can be caused if the brain is damaged by diseases, such as multiple strokes or Alzheimer's disease.

Typically, the condition affects people aged 65 or over with one in 14 people in that age group having dementia.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are currently around 850,000 people in the UK suffering from the condition.